What is torn rotator cuff?

Torn rotator cuff refers to damage to one of the four muscles that allow the arm to rotate at the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears can also affect the tendons that hold these muscles together. Generally, a torn rotator cuff is the result of repetitive use, but it can occur as a single traumatic injury.

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Rotator cuff tears are most common in older people who repeatedly perform activities with overhead motions, but they can occur in anyone. If you have a torn rotator cuff, you may experience muscle weakness, pain in the arm or shoulder, muscle wasting, or a crackling feeling when you move your shoulder. The pain may get worse with time.

There are many treatments for rotator cuff tears, depending on the severity. In mild cases, the tear may repair itself over time, and rest, over-the-counter medication, and exercise may speed healing. Physical therapy, prescription medications, and steroids may be necessary in more serious cases, while severe cases of torn rotator cuff may require surgery.

Surgery for torn rotator cuff ranges from smoothing of the tissues (debridement) to full tendon transfer (replacement of muscles or tendons). A combination of surgery and physical therapy often leads to greater recovery.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience a snapping sound or sensation in your arm, coupled with intense pain and an inability to rotate your arm, as this may indicate that your rotator cuff has torn.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for a torn rotator cuff and experience persistent or bothersome pain, or if your condition interferes with your daily life.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of torn rotator cuff?

Symptoms of torn rotator cuff include pain, an inability to move the shoulder, and swelling.... Read more about torn rotator cuffsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes torn rotator cuff?

Torn rotator cuff can be an acute (sudden) injury or a repetitive use (gradual) injury. Acute injuries may occur during strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting or sports, or may be due to an accident. More commonly, the rotator cuff will tear as a result of repetitive use, such as with frequent overhead lifting. In these cases, the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff develop wear and tear over time. Athletes who frequently engage their rotator cuff, such as baseball players, have an increased risk of injury.... Read more about torn rotator cuffcauses

TREATMENTS

How is torn rotator cuff treated?

A torn rotator cuff may heal on its own but can benefit from pain management, reducing inflammation, and physical therapy. If the tear is small and not excessively painful, treatments that include rest, a sling, and anti-inflammatory medications may be adequate for improving shoulder function. More serious cases of torn rotator cuff may require surgery.... Read more about torn rotator cufftreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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