January 27, 2022

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Rotator Cuff Tear: All You Need to Know

Rotator Cuff Tears: Frequently Asked Questions - OrthoInfo - AAOS

The rotator cuff includes a group of muscles that holds the shoulder joint in place. These include four muscles- subscapularis, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and teres minor. 

The shoulder joint is vulnerable, as the head of the humerus is larger than the glenoid cavity, which makes superior dislocation of the shoulder a prevalent condition. To avoid such dislocations frequently, we need these rotator cuff muscles. 

A sac is present between the rotator cuff and on top of the bone of the shoulder. This sac is known as the bursa. This bursa helps the joint move smoothly. 

Rotator Cuff Tear: Causes and Treatment?

Rotator cuff tear in West Chester is common for heavy weight lifters, sportspersons, or older adults going through degenerative changes. Additionally, a rotator cuff tear is a tear in any of the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff. This tear can happen slowly over time for various reasons, or it can be due to a sudden acute injury.

Two types of rotator cuff tears can occur: 

  1. Partial tears- In such a tear, the muscle or tendon of the rotator cuff is damaged but not all the way through. 
  2. Complete tears- The tear leads to complete detachment of tendon or muscle from the head of the humerus bone. 

Rotator cuff tear causes shoulder pain and weakness. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint, providing maximum range of motion. Still, in the case of a rotator cuff tear, the range of motion is reduced, and the patient suffering notices a significant change in his mobility of the shoulder joint. 


  1. Acute injuries- When a person lifts heavy weights or meets an accident, the rotator cuff can tear in these conditions. 
  1. Degenerative tears- Usually occur due to the aging process, but this can also be hereditary. Poor blood circulation to the rotator cuff also leads to degeneration and later test. 

Some other conditions can also lead to a rotator cuff tear, such as a shoulder dislocation due to trauma can lead to a rotator cuff tear.  A precise diagnosis for the cause of rotator cuff tear should be made before proceeding with the treatment. 


The treatment varies based on the extent of the tear. It can either be surgical or non-surgical. 

Non-surgical methods of treatment include:

  1. Thermotherapy involves using ice and heat to treat the tear. 
  2. Physical therapy.
  3. Painkillers. 
  4. Steroid injections. 

In case non-surgical methods fail, the doctor suggests surgical methods. 

Surgical Methods Include 

In arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, the doctor uses small slits and cameras to better view and repair the injury. This is a minimally invasive procedure. The surgery lasts for 2-3 hours, and the patient is sent to postoperative care for observation. 

The rotator cuff should be evaluated once a year to see if there are any chances of a future tear. If the doctor finds a weakening of the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff, the condition can then be controlled before an absolute tear could take place.

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