Torn Rotator Cuff
Specialized treatment and surgery for rotator cuff tears
The rotator cuff is a network of four muscles that helps lift and rotate the upper arm.
What is a torn rotator cuff?
A rotator cuff tear is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain.
Torn rotator cuffs most commonly occur among people over age 40. As we age, tissue weakens, making people more prone to injuries. Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by sports activity, repeated lifting or reaching, or bony abnormalities.
Left untreated, rotator cuff injuries can linger for years and compromise quality of life, causing pain, larger muscle tears and permanent joint damage.
What are the symptoms of a torn rotator cuff?
People with a rotator cuff injury often report:
- Pain along the top and outside of the shoulder, particularly when the arm is raised
- Weakness in the shoulder
- Difficulty sleeping on the injured shoulder
- Pain when doing simple daily tasks, especially overhead
How we treat a torn rotator cuff
An Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic specialist will obtain a history, examine the shoulder, test arm strength and evaluate range of motion. An X-ray is commonly ordered to evaluate for bony abnormalities. The specialist also may order an MRI or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.
Nonsurgical treatment options
- Modification of activity
- Physical therapy
- Ice or heat
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Cortisone injection
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections
- Stem cell therapy
Surgery may be required for people with significant compromise of quality of life, large rotator cuff tears or for those who have experienced pain for a long time. Our orthopedic surgeons typically perform shoulder arthroscopy surgery using a small camera, which is a minimally invasive way to address shoulder problems. If there is a torn rotator cuff plus significant shoulder osteoarthritis, it may be recommended that the person considers a shoulder replacement surgery.
Our goal at Orthopedics and Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic is to create individualized care plans to reduce pain, improve mobility, reduce the likelihood of further injury and return people to their normal activities as quickly and safely as possible.