Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff is the group of tendons in the shoulder joint providing support and enabling a wide range of motion. Major injury to these tendons may result in tear of these tendons, condition called rotator cuff tear. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle aged adults and older individuals.


A rotator cuff tear can result from pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade (scapula) as the arm is lifted. It may occur with repeated use of arm for overhead activities, while playing sports or during motor accidents.


Rotator cuff tears may cause severe pain, weakness of the arm, and crackling sensation on moving the shoulder in certain positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movement, and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.


Your surgeon will diagnoses as rotator cuff tear based on a physical examination, X-rays; and imaging studies; such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Rotator cuff tears are best viewed on MRI.

Conservative Treatment Options

  • Rest
  • Shoulder sling
  • Pain medication
  • Injection of a steroid (cortisone) and a local anesthetic in the subacromial space of the affected shoulder to help decrease the inflammation and pain
  • Certain exercises


Rotator cuff repair may be performed by open surgery or arthroscopic procedure. In the arthroscopy procedure, space for the rotator cuff tendons is increased and the cuff tear is repaired using suture anchors. These suture anchor help in attaching the tendons to the shoulder bone. Following the surgery, you may be advised to practice motion and strengthening exercises.