Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are responsible for keeping the shoulder joint stable. Unfortunately, injuries to the rotator cuff are very common and usually occur from injury or repetitive overuse. A tear occurs when the muscles or tendons are damaged. Rotator cuff tears are categorized either as full thickness, or partial thickness tears. A full thickness tear has extended from the top to the bottom of the muscle or tendon, and a partial thickness tear only affects a portion of this area. People with chronic rotator cuff injuries often have a history of tendon irritation that causes shoulder pain with movement. This condition is known as shoulder impingement syndrome.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain over the top of the shoulder or down the arm.
  • Shoulder weakness.
  • Loss of shoulder motion.
  • The injured arm often feels heavy.
  • Difficulty reaching up to a shelf, or behind their back.

How can a Physical Therapist help?

  • Flexibility exercises and stretches to improve muscle health.
  • Strengthening exercises to increase support and functional use of your arm.
  • Posture education
  • Instruction on symptom management with the use of cold/heat therapy.

Note: If you have a rotator cuff surgery, your Orthopedic Surgeon will provide you with a specific treatment protocol for us to follow.

Wednesday the 5th. Copyright 2012, Three Rivers Hospital