Rotating Cuff Tears


The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles that aid in moving and stabilizing the shoulder joint. When any of these muscles or their ligaments are damaged, it can result in significant pain and disability, limiting the range of motion or use of the shoulder joint. This damage may occur due to acute injury, chronic overuse, or gradual aging.

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint that enables movement of the arm in multiple directions. It consists of the humeral head fitting into the glenoid fossa of the scapula, or shoulder blade. The rotator cuff muscles act as dynamic stabilizers and movers of the shoulder joint, allowing for adjustment of the position of the humeral head and scapula. In the case of a rotator cuff injury, various problems can arise, such as shoulder pain and spasm that restrict the range of motion. This limitation disallows the muscles to make small adjustments within the joint, preventing the humeral head from moving smoothly. Additionally, inflammation within the joint that causes fluid accumulation, as well as the development of arthritis and calcium deposits over time, can also limit the range of motion.

Causes Of Rotator Cuff Injury:

Rotator cuff injuries can result from acute injury, chronic overuse, or gradual degeneration of the muscle and tendon due to aging. Acute and chronic tears are common causes of rotator cuff injuries. An acute rotator cuff tear can develop from a sudden, forceful rise of the arm against resistance, heavy lifting, or falling on the shoulder.

Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Injury:

Inflammation is a common symptom of a strained rotator cuff that can cause swelling and reduced range of motion. Additional symptoms may include an acute rotator cuff tear, which can cause a sudden tearing sensation followed by severe, sharp, shooting pain from the upper shoulder area down the arm toward the elbow. Acute pain resulting from bleeding and muscle spasm, as well as large tears, may cause an inability to abduct the shoulder. Other symptoms of rotator cuff injury include worsening pain at night, gradual weakness, and decreased shoulder motion.


Although a rotator cuff has the potential to heal on its own, pain management, inflammation reduction, and physical therapy can be beneficial. If the tear is small and not overly painful, treatments such as rest, using a sling, and taking anti-inflammatory medication may be sufficient for improving shoulder function. However, more severe cases of a torn rotator cuff may require surgical intervention.

  • Surgery For Rotator Cuff

    The surgical treatment of a torn rotator cuff typically involves outpatient procedures, with advances in medical science enabling minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. However, for larger tears in the rotator cuff, open surgery may still be necessary. Available surgeries for this condition include debridement of injured tissues, full replacement of the shoulder joint, and surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff.

  • Other Treatments For Rotator Cuff

    Aside from surgical interventions, alternative treatments may be considered for a rotator cuff, particularly when the tear is not severe. These treatments may enhance shoulder function and involve the use of anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications, physical therapy, rest, steroid medications, and supportive slings.