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.

Inspired Athletx Treatment

Your physical therapist will utilize manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and improve mobility, paired by corrective exercises for active mobility, scapular stabilizer and rotator cuff strength, posture, and sport specific activities.