Torn Rotator Cuff

A torn rotator cuff is a common injury affecting the muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons stabilize the shoulder and enable a wide range of motion. A tear in the rotator cuff can lead to pain, weakness, and reduced mobility, potentially causing significant discomfort and impairing daily activities. Understanding rotator cuff tears and following recommended treatments is crucial for overcoming the limitations of this injury. Learn more about recognizing rotator cuff tears and the recommended treatments at Resilient Performance Physical Therapy.

What is a Torn Rotator Cuff?

A torn rotator cuff occurs when one or more of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles are torn, either partially or completely. This injury can compromise the stability and function of the shoulder joint, affecting mobility and performance. Rotator cuff tears can result from acute injuries or degenerative changes in the tendons over time.

Types of Rotator Cuff Tears

Partial Tears

A partial tear occurs when the tendon is damaged but not completely severed. This type of tear can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Full-Thickness Tears

Also known as complete tears, these occur when the tendon is completely detached from the bone. This type of tear can significantly impair shoulder function and may require surgical intervention.

Acute Tears

Acute tears happen suddenly, often due to a traumatic injury such as a fall or lifting a heavy object. These tears can cause immediate pain and loss of function.

Degenerative Tears

Degenerative tears develop over time due to wear and tear on the tendons. They are more common in individuals over 40 and can be associated with repetitive shoulder movements.

What Does a Rotator Cuff Tear Mean for Me?

A rotator cuff tear can affect your ability to perform everyday activities and may lead to chronic shoulder pain and weakness. Understanding the severity and type of tear is essential for determining the appropriate treatment plan.

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear

  • Pain in the shoulder or arm
  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty lifting or rotating the arm
  • Sensations of cracking or popping in the shoulder
  • Limited range of motion

Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears


Acute injuries from sports, accidents, or heavy lifting can cause a rotator cuff tear.


Aging and repetitive stress on the shoulder can lead to degenerative tears.


Continuous use of the shoulder without adequate rest or conditioning can cause tears.

Diagnosing a Rotator Cuff Tear

It is essential to see a healthcare provider for a complete diagnosis, involving physical exams and imaging tests such as MRI or ultrasound, to accurately diagnose a rotator cuff tear and rule out other causes of shoulder pain.

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tears

Treatment may involve physical therapy to restore function and alleviate pain or surgery to repair the torn tendon if less invasive methods are insufficient. Depending on the severity and location of the tear, surgical options include arthroscopic repair, open repair, or tendon transfer.

Why Choose Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process, helping to restore shoulder strength and range of motion. During physical therapy, your specialist will use exercises and techniques to improve the shoulder joint’s flexibility, strength, and overall function. Physical therapy can also help prevent future injuries by better preparing the shoulder for daily activities and physical demands.

Schedule an Appointment

If you suspect you have a torn rotator cuff or are experiencing shoulder pain, it is essential to seek professional medical care. At Resilient Performance Physical Therapy, our experienced team provides comprehensive care and guides you through the best treatment options. Schedule an appointment with us today to ensure your shoulder receives the attention and care it deserves.