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What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

A rotator cuff is a group of tendons in the shoulder joint that provides support and enables a wide range of motion. A major injury to these tendons may result in rotator cuff tears. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle-aged and older individuals.

What are the Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears?

A rotator cuff tear may occur with repeated use of the arm for overhead activities, while playing sports, or from a motor accident.

What are the Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears?

A rotator cuff tear causes 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.

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Diagnosed?

Your surgeon diagnoses a rotator cuff tear based on a physical examination and X-rays. A rotator cuff tear is best viewed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What are the Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears?

Conservative treatment

The conservative treatment options for rotator cuff tears are:

  • Rest
  • Shoulder Sling
  • Pain medication
  • Injection of a steroid (cortisone) and a local anesthetic in the subacromial space of the affected shoulder to relieve inflammation and pain
  • Exercises

Surgery for Rotator Cuff Tears

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

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM)
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)
  • Biologic Association
  • 
Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society
  • Notre Dame Orthopaedic Society
  • USA Olympic Team Sports Medicine
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Hopewell Area Schools
  • Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates
  • 725 Cherrington Parkway
    Suite 200
    Moon Township, PA 15108

  • 1099 Ohio River Boulevard
    Sewickley, PA 15143