Rotator Cuff Injury/Tear
There are 4 main muscles that make up the rotator cuff: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and the subscapularis. These muscles stabilize the shoulder during all motions of the shoulder joint. A rotator cuff injury or tear can occur from an acute injury or chronic overuse (impingement, tendinitis).
Acute rotator cuff injuries typically occur from a fall on an outstretched arm or a hit. Chronic overuse injuries most commonly occur from overhead activities (throwing, tennis, volleyball, swimming, work, etc.).
– Inefficient mechanics in sport, training, or work.
– Poor posture.
– Limited upper body mobility.
– Weakness of rotator cuff and stabilizer muscles.
– History of traumatic event or overuse.
– Lingering pain after injury.
– Shoulder stiffness.
– Weakness in the shoulder.
– Difficulty/inability to perform overhead activities.
– Pain lying on the affected side.
At Home Diagnostic Tests
– Empty Can (video).
– Drop Arm (video).
– Lift Off (video).
At Home Care
– Avoid irritating activity.
– Ice and NSAID use.
When to Seek Help
Contact your physical therapist if the pain continues or gets worse after 1 week, if you notice weakness in the affected shoulder, or if you cannot perform overhead sport or activities. Many rotator cuff tears can be treated conservatively without surgery.