The rotator cuff is what keeps your arm in your shoulder socket. It’s a group of muscles and tendons that cover the end of the humerus bone in your arm and attaches it to the shoulder blade. There’s also a bursa in the rotator cuff that facilitates movement of the tendons. When working properly, the rotator cuff enables you to rotate and raise your arm.
A rotator cuff tear arises when at least one of the tendons is detached from the top of the humerus. A tear can arise from a fall onto your arm when it’s outstretched, or from lifting a heavy weight using a jerking action. You may also sustain a fractured collarbone or dislocate your shoulder at the same time.
Many rotator cuff tears arise as a result of the natural degeneration that occurs as part of the aging process. Blood supply to the rotator cuff lessens with age, making it harder for your body to repair any damage. You may also develop bone spurs that rub on the rotator cuff, a condition known as shoulder impingement.
Degenerative rotator cuff tears are particularly likely to occur if you repeat the same movements with your shoulder many times over for extended periods, such as activities like:
Jobs that involve repetitive movements, such as professional decorating, can also lead to rotator cuff tears.
It’s important to see us for treatment if you have pain or weakness in your shoulder, as untreated rotator cuff injuries can worsen over time.
We will first confirm you have a torn rotator cuff, and assesses the extent of the damage. Potential treatment options include:
Most rotator cuff tears respond to a combination of these conservative approaches, but if the effects of your rotator cuff injury are severe, or you need the use of your arm for your work, surgery may be the best option.