Rotator Cuff Tears: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

All About Rotator Cuff

Rotator cuff tears are some of the most common injuries in an individual. The rotator cuffs are a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder joint that keep the head of the upper bone within the shallow socket of the shoulder. It is essential in aiding movements in the shoulder and the arms. It also helps in overhead movements and circular rotations of the arm and shoulder.

Rotator cuff injuries can result in dull pain in the shoulder and are common in people who engage in extensive relative motions of the shoulder and arms, such as carpenters, painters, and athletes.

Rotator cuff shoulder pain is common and can worsen with age. The muscles and tendons are at risk of injury. Read on more to know about the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear, its causes, and treatment for rotator cuff injuries.

What Is a Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff strain or tear occurs when there is a progressive tear of the tendons in the shoulder region. This tear results in reduced mobility of the shoulder and the arms. We will discuss several causes for such a tear in detail below.

What Are the Types of Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are of two types. A partial tear is when there is an incomplete tear or partial tear of the tendon in the region. This can result in reduced movement of the shoulder and hands, mild pain, and a feeling of uneasiness.

A complete tear occurs when the tendon tears completely, resulting in severe injury and some cases, dislocation of the shoulder. When a severe injury occurs, there is often a major tear or hole in the tendon.

What Are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear occurs in the shoulder region of an individual. It is easy to watch for the symptoms as they can be immediate. One of the most common symptoms of a rotator tear is a dull pain in the shoulder, followed by reduced mobility. This can mean that there is swelling in the tendons that are a result of injury.

Another symptom is a "popping sound" when you move your shoulders and arms. This could mean that the placement of the arm in the socket is off and can result in injury to the tendons.

Weakness in the shoulder, intense pain when applying pressure to the shoulder, and difficulty in hand and shoulder movement can all be symptoms of a rotator cuff tear.

What Causes a Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff injuries are common and can be caused for several reasons. Here are a few that are common causes 

Bone Spurs

In some instances, bones can grow in the shoulder region. This can result in the bones brushing against the tendons, resulting in friction and tear in the tendons. This growth can sometimes result in a tear or injury to the tendons.

Decreased Blood Flow to Rotator Cuff

Healthy blood flow is vital in ensuring that the bones and tendons can heal and stay fit over time. As you age, there are possibilities that there is a reduced blood flow to the shoulder region. This prevents healthy healing of the tendons and shoulder joints and reduces the ability of the bones and tendons to regenerate. This results in pain and tendon injuries due to regular wear and tear that is not healing quickly enough.

Overuse

Constant use of the shoulder and arms for various activities can result in persistent wear and tear of the tendons and muscles in the region. This can result from vigorous physical activities that do not give enough rest for the tendons to heal, resulting in tears in the muscles eventually.

Factors May Increase Your Risk of Rotator Cuff Tear

You may be at risk for higher cases of injuries of rotator cuff tears due to several reasons. A family history of shoulder pain or rotator injury can have a genetic impact on the individual's injuries and may increase the risk of such tears.

Extensive use of the shoulders for activities with low levels of rest, poor nutrition, and care can aggravate the cuff tears in an individual.

Poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle can also hurt the tears. 

Activities such as smoking and health conditions such as arthritis can also increase the risk of having a rotator cuff tear.

How Is a Rotator Cuff Tear Treated

Rotator cuff tears are common and have various possible ways of treating them. In most cases, rest is vital for the recovery of the tears of the tendon. You can treat a rotator cuff tear through surgical and non-surgical means.

Non-Surgical

Non-surgical treatment is the first to be explored, as it offers many benefits. In most cases, rest, ice, and compression help reduce swelling in the region and assist in the healing of the tendons.

Ice and Heat packs can help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation, which helps in healing.

Other non-surgical methods are arm slings that offer support and reduce the shoulder movement and pressure. This helps in reducing further injury and aids in recovery.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are also helpful in treating pain and swelling in the region and improve the tendons' healing.

Physiotherapy is also an effective treatment plan, as it helps improve the region's mobility and strengthens the shoulder's muscles and tendons. This positively affects the injury and helps increase resistance to injuries in the rotator cuffs.

Surgical

Rotator cuff tears can also be treated through surgical means. This method is used only when there is a severe need for surgical intervention, such as causes of high-impact injuries and accidents. 

Arthroscopy is a simple minor invasive procedure that helps reduce pain and helps improve movement. Doctors operate through small incisions and can offer quick remedies for pain. However, the healing may take longer.

Sometimes, when these interventions are not feasible, tendon transfer, reverse shoulder replacement, and other forms may help heal.

Surgical procedures take time to heal and need several months of rehabilitation and care.

How to Prevent a Rotator Cuff Tear

Preventing rotator cuff tears is easy and effective in the long run. It is important to ensure that the shoulder joints are flexible. This can be achieved through a series of exercises and physiotherapy.

Foods that help strengthen bones and keep tendons healthy are also vital. It is also important to ensure that there is no sudden pressure on the joints to avoid tears.

Heal Rotator Cuff Tears With Physiotattva

We understand that rotator cuff tears can cause discomfort and be painful. Cuff tears can be treated with physiotherapy and can be an effective treatment plan. Physiotherapists can help you identify the root cause of the problem and offer personalized care.

At Physiotattva, we aim to provide personal and high-quality care that is backed by research and experience. Our physiotherapists will be able to provide you with comprehensive treatment plans that are effective and sustainable.

Reach out to our professionals to help treat your pain with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do rotator cuff tears take to heal?

Depending on the severity of your injury, it can take anywhere between a week to a few months. It is important to understand that there can be varied severity, and depending on the type of treatment, the timeline may vary.

What are two warning signs of a rotator cuff tear?

Sudden locking of the shoulder joints and dull throbbing pain in the shoulder are some of the common signs of a rotator cuff. Other symptoms can be reduced mobility in the shoulder and soreness in the joints.