Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is the group of tendons in the shoulder joint providing support and enabling wider range of motion. An injury to one or more of these tendons may result in a tear, known as a rotator cuff tear. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle aged adults and older individuals. People with this injury may experience weakness and pain in their shoulder.


Rotator cuff tear results from pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade (scapula) as the arm is lifted. It may occur from repeated use of the arm for overhead activities, playing sports, motor accidents, as well as predisposing trauma.


Rotator cuff tear causes severe pain, weakness of the arm, and a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder in various positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movement, and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.


Your surgeon will diagnose a rotator cuff tear based on the physical examination, X-rays, and imaging studies, such as, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). A Rotator Cuff Tear is best viewed on an MRI.

Conservative Treatment Options

  • Rest
  • Shoulder sling
  • Pain medication injection of a steroid (cortisone) and a local anesthetic in the subacromial space of the affected shoulder to help decrease the inflammation and pain
  • Physical Therapy Exercises


Rotator cuff repair may be performed by open surgery or an arthroscopic procedure. During shoulder arthroscopy, your surgeon makes very small incisions and inserts a small camera into your shoulder joint. The camera then displays pictures of your joint on a television screen, and with these images the surgeon will repair the rotator cuff with sutures and anchors.

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital Hoag Orange Coast Medical Center