Rotator Cuff

What is rotator cuff tear?

Rotator cuff tear is one of the common causes of disability and pain in many people. The condition weakens the shoulder. As a result, the patient will experience difficulty in doing many daily activities. A group of tendons that connects the bones and four muscles of the upper shoulder is called the rotator cuff. Tear or damage to any of the tendons is called a rotator cuff tear. It can be of two types- partial tear or full-thickness tear.

What causes rotator cuff tear?

Injury and degeneration are the two main causes of rotator cuff tear.

Acute tear: A tear in the rotator cuff tendons caused due to falling, injuries, or lifting something heavy are called acute tear. A broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder are considered as acute tear.

Degenerative tear: Over time, normal wear and tear can cause tears in the tendons. Aging is the main cause of degenerative tear. Degenerative tear may sometimes cause no shoulder pain. However, patients with degenerative tear are at more risk for rotator cuff tear. Apart from wear and tear, other causes for the degenerative tear include:

Bone spurs
Lack of blood supply
Repetitive stress

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tear?

Some of the common rotator cuff  symptoms include:

  • Pain in the shoulder even when at rest
  • Pain while lowering the arm or lifting anything heavy
  • Weakness in the shoulder when rotating or lifting the arm
  • Crackling sensation while making movements in certain portions

How is the rotator cuff diagnosed?

Apart from medical history analysis and physical examination, the doctor will suggest the following tests to diagnose rotator cuff tear:

  • X-ray
  • MRI or ultrasound

What are the treatments for rotator cuff tear?

There are nonsurgical as well as surgical treatment options for rotator cuff tear.

Nonsurgical treatment:

  • Rest
  • Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication
  • Steroid injection
  • Activity modification
  • Strengthening exercise
  • Physical therapy

Surgical treatment:

If non-surgical treatments fail to improve the condition, the doctor will suggest surgery. The surgical procedure involves reattaching the tendon to the upper arm bone (humerus).

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