Rotator Cuff Tear (Shoulder Injury)
What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilising the shoulder joints and allowing a wide range of motion. A rotator cuff tear is when the tendon inside the rotator cuff is torn, either caused by trauma or overuse causing wear and tear to the tendon over time. To minimise movement and provide extra support a shoulder brace or sling is recommended.
Sustaining a tear to the rotator cuff may result in weakness in the shoulder and the inability to freely move your arm without causing pain. This will depend on the severity and type of tear you have sustained. There are two main types of tears:
- A partial tear – is when the tendon becomes damaged but not a complete tear.
- A full-thickness tear – is when the tendon is completely severed. A complete tear means the tendon is no longer attached to the upper arm bone (humerus).
What can cause a Rotator Cuff Tear?
Trauma and degenerative wear and tear are the two common causes for a rotator cuff tear. A traumatic injury where enough force and weight is applied to the shoulder is a common cause for rotator cuff tears in younger athletes and physically active people. Tears caused by degeneration to the tendon is commonly caused by overuse during sports or aging.
- A common cause during sports is landing awkwardly and applying force and pressure to the shoulder while the arm is outstretched in a vulnerable position
- Acute tears can also happen as a result of another injury for example, a dislocated shoulder may produce more damage to the tendons when the bone is popped out of its socket – improper relocating of the shoulder back into the socket can also cause more damage than the initial dislocation.
Degeneration/wear and tear
- Overuse of the shoulder muscles and lack of rest will result in the ligaments and tendons loosening and weakening overtime – becoming more vulnerable to tears.
- Repetitive trauma over time – performing the same actions excessively, common in sports such as: baseball, tennis where range of motion of the shoulder joints can be excessive.
- Aging – as we age more time is required for healing processes for example: aging can produce less blood supply in the rotator cuff tendons meaning the body’s ability to repair tendon damage is no longer as effective, making you more prone to tears and injury.
Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear:
- Pain when leaning or applying weight on the shoulder, for example: sleeping on the shoulder at night
- Lifting the arm past shoulder height and rotating may cause pain
- Weakness in the arms when lifting objects
- The shoulder may feel stiff in certain positions and produce grinding sounds
Pain is a common factor in rotator cuff tears, but varies depending on the type of tear. If a tear is sustained through trauma, it is usual to feel intense and high amounts of pain. Degenerative tears produce pain, except pain gradually builds over time.
If you have noticeable pain in the rotator cuff, it is important to get it checked by a medical practitioner. Continued use of your arm and shoulder with disregard to rotator cuff pain can cause permanent damage.
- Resting is crucial to a full recovery. Limit activities that require your arm to extend above your head.
- Ice the affected area to help with inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication may be prescribed by your doctor
- Strengthening and mobility exercises
- Steroid injections
- Surgical treatment may be needed for more serious cases
Rehabilitate and hold your shoulder in place, consult Better Brace’s Brace Advisor with the advisor you can find the right brace to suit your needs. Have peace of mind that you are getting the best shoulder brace as we provide 30 day money back and price match guarantee.