The Details of Rotator Cuff Tears

August 2, 2021

We often hear about the rotator cuff (RTC) and how much pain and annoyance it can cause a person. Unfortunately, most people are not given good education on the actual causes, prognosis, and anatomy of the rotator cuff. Below are some examples of causes for rotator cuff tears, anatomy of the rotator cuff, and how best to address the rotator cuff tear.

Anatomy of the RTC

The rotator cuff is a combination of a few smaller muscles of the shoulder including:

These muscles help with rotating the arm up and back. Movements such as washing your hair or throwing a ball most frequently involve the rotator cuff and may be difficult with a tear.

Causes for a RTC Tear

Most commonly a torn rotator cuff happens over time due to the below activities:

A rotator cuff tear can also happen acutely via:

Signs and symptoms of a RTC tear

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical Therapists use a series of special tests to determine whether there may be a tear or another shoulder injury. These tests isolate specific muscles and allow them to  resolve which muscle may be torn. Another way to determine a tear is through an MRI or CT scan which can be costly depending upon insurance authorizations.

Treatment options include:

Coming to Physical Therapy can avoid a doctor’s visit, an expensive bill, reinjury, and longer recovery time. So don’t wait!

By Dr. Billy Beaudreau, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT

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