Rotator Cuff Tears


The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles around the shoulder. It can be develop a tear from overuse, a fall, or other injury.

Symptoms of a tear include:

  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
  • A sensation of locking, popping, catching, or grinding
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder


To diagnose a rotator cuff tear, the doctor will do a physical examination. X-rays are often used to rule out bone abnormality. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required to further evaluate the soft tissue of the shoulder.

Treatment Options

In planning your treatment, your doctor will consider your age, activity level, general health, and the type of tear you have. Your doctor may recommend management of rotator cuff tears with physical therapy and other nonsurgical treatments first.

Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most often involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of humerus (upper arm bone). This is usually performed arthroscopically with a camera and instruments through multiple small incisions around the shoulder. Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss with you the best procedure to meet your needs.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and to restore range of motion either before or after surgery.