Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are tears of one or more of the four tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. A rotator cuff injury can include any type of irritation or damage to the rotator cuff muscles or tendons.

Rotator cuff tears are among the most common conditions affecting the shoulder.

The rotator cuff constitutes a group of four muscles: the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. The cuff adheres to the glenohumeral capsule and attaches to the humeral head. The main functions of the cuff are to stabilizes the glenohumeral joint and rotate the humerus outward. When shoulder trauma occurs, these functions can be attenuated, therefore suggesting a rotator cuff tear. Since individuals are highly dependent on the shoulder for many activities, overuse and overbearing of the muscles can lead to tears, with the vast majority of these tears occurring in the supraspinatus tendon.

There are two main causes of rotator cuff tears: injury (acute) and degeneration (chronic). The mechanisms involved can be categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic.

Chronic Tears- Chronic tears are symptomatic of extended periods of use in conjunction with other factors such as poor biomechanics or muscular imbalance. Most tears are the result of a wearing down of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This degeneration naturally occurs as we age. Rotator cuff tears are more common in the dominant arm. If you have a degenerative tear in one shoulder, there is a greater risk for a rotator cuff tear in the opposite shoulder — even if you have no pain in that shoulder.

Acute Tears- Acute tears occur due to a sudden, high stress motion or impact, such as if you fall down on your outstretched arm or lift something too heavy with a jerking motion. This type of tear can also occur with other shoulder injuries, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.

Treatment of a Rotator Cuff Tear

Physical therapy is often recommended as an initial treatment for a rotator cuff tear.The goal of treating a rotator cuff tear is not necessarily to heal the torn tendon. People can often achieve pain relief and improved strength by relieving inflammation and restoring shoulder joint mechanics. This can be accomplished with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments, including medications, cortisone injections, and ice application.

Get Relief by physical Therapy

At ABC Physical Therapy center, our experts can help you to get relif from rotator cuff tears and to improve the function of the muscles that surround the shoulder. Most people, athletes and weight-lifters included, only strengthen a few of the large muscles around the shoulder. Physical therapy targets the smaller, but important muscles around the shoulder that are commonly neglected. By strengthening these muscles, therapy can help compensate for damaged tendons and improve the mechanics of the shoulder joint.