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Rotator Cuff Tear

That nagging and frustrating pain in your shoulder is beginning to affect your daily activities. Simple actions like reaching out for a handshake or even sleeping at night can result in intense pain.

Physical therapy is guaranteed to relieve your pain and bring flexibility and strength back to your shoulders.

Get rid of your pain today by requesting an appointment with one of our physical therapists to examine your shoulder, and create a custom program to relieve your pain.

Is a rotator cuff tear causing your pain? Learn everything you need to know below.

What is Your Rotator Cuff
Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles or tendons that helps to keep the ball (head) of the humerus bone (upper arm bone) firmly in your shoulder socket. Your rotator cuff enables you to move your arm freely and in whatever position. Any damage to these muscles will limit the range of motion of your shoulder. The rotator cuff muscles include the :


This muscle keeps your upper arm bone in place, allows you to lift your arm, and provides stability.


this is the main tendon that enables you to extend and rotate your shoulder.

Teres Minor

This muscle assists with the rotation of the arm away from the body. This is the smallest rotator cuff muscle


This rotator cuff muscle helps with the rotation of the arm. It also enables you to raise and lower your arm.

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
This is damage or injury to one or all the rotator cuff muscles. Oftentimes, when your rotator cuff is torn, your bursa is injured and inflamed alongside. A tear detaches the rotator cuff from the humerus head (partially or completely), and this results in pain as you move your shoulder. There are two types of rotator cuff tear; partial tear and a complete tear. In a partial or incomplete tear, the rotator cuff is not severed completely from the humerus head. It could also affect just a muscle. In a complete tear, the rotator tear is severed completely from the humerus ball. In other words, the tendon is pulled off the bone.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Tears?
There are two major causes of rotator cuff tears


This could occur from a fall on your arm, or from lifting something heavy.

Progressive degeneration

This is from the gradual wear and tear of your muscles. Age is the number one factor here.

Rotator cuff tear is also common in people that perform repetitive motion activities with their arms. For example, in sports like baseball and tennis. Vocations such as carpentry, painting, and other forms of construction work that require repetitive motion also contribute to rotator cuff tear.
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tear
You can’t really know if your rotator cuff is torn. However, you could have the following symptoms:

Pain when you lower or lift your arm

Pain when your arm is at rest

Pain at night, especially if you lie on the affected shoulder

Weakness in your shoulder

Crackling or popping sound when you move your arm

Inability to move things as usual

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Tear
One of our physical therapists will carry out a physical examination of your shoulder. A PT will feel around your shoulder and ask you to perform some motion exercises. Other diagnostic techniques such as Xray or an MRI-scan by your doctor will also be used to rule out other shoulder pain issues.
Rotator Cuff Tear Treatments
Mild rotator cuff tear may get worse over time if left untreated. Most rotator cuff tears are repaired with physical therapy. A PT will recommend rest and advise you to avoid activities that might have caused the tear. Manual therapy and motion and strength exercises will then begin to repair your rotator cuff and restore your shoulder. In most cases, physical therapy is used to treat rotator cuff tears, but in rare and severe cases, surgery is prescribed by your doctor. Surgery is carried out if :

Symptoms persist even after non-surgical treatment options and for more than 6 months

Your rotator cuff tear is large (up to 3cm)

Your tear is caused by a recent and acute fall

Arthroscopic surgery or open surgery may be carried out. A shoulder replacement might also be considered if the tear is very severe.
Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tear
Physical therapy is not just great as a non-surgical treatment option or a post-surgery rehab option. It is also vital for prevention, for those at high-risk of a tear. Polygon PT offers physical therapy and rehab programs that are sure to get your shoulder pain-free, flexible, and completely healed in no distant time. Depending on the severity of your tear, you should expect to see results few weeks after treatment, and a couple of months to a year for complete recovery. Request an appointment with a physical therapist today to get started.