Rotator Cuff Tear
Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common injuries of the shoulder. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with the arm bone (humerus) meeting the shallow socket called the glenoid fossa. This socket is part of the shoulder blade (scapula).
The term “rotator cuff” refers to four muscles of the shoulder that help to support the shoulder joint during rest and movement. These muscles, known as the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis, attach the shoulder blade and upper arm bone, and keep the arm bone against the shoulder socket.
Rotator cuff muscles and tendons can be injured over time, or with a sudden injury such as a fall. In an overuse injury, the soft tissues may begin as fraying, often caused by repeated activities. A tear can be partial or complete, with the muscle being torn into two pieces.
Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can include shoulder pain, stiffness, and weakness. You may have difficulty raising the arm overhead or lifting objects, especially above shoulder height. Getting dressed, washing your hair, or tucking in a shirt can be difficult. Sleeping can be limited because of shoulder pain.
While recovering from rotator cuff injuries, you may need to avoid activities that are repeated or painful, such as swimming or playing tennis. Physical therapy can help you learn how to keep the shoulder moving while protecting the healing tissues with activities for stretching, strengthening, and for healthy posture.