Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator Cuff Repair at a Glance

Rotator cuff tear is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Our shoulder is like a ball and socket joint made by three bones, humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collar bone). Many muscles, tendons and ligaments provide stability and mobility to the shoulder joint.

A group of four muscles and their tendons, positioned around the shoulder joint, collectively form rotator cuff. These four muscles are teres minor, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis. These muscles, along with their tendons, form a cover around the head of the humerus (the ball part of the shoulder joint), which holds the upper arm bone and help rotating the arm.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tear is the tearing of one or all of the rotator cuff tendons, due to a trauma or as a result of chronic wear and tear. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people over the age of 40 years. In younger people, a rotator cuff tear normally happens as a result of trauma due to a fall or accident. It is also commonly seen in athletes who are baseball pitchers, swimmers, or tennis players.


The common symptoms of rotator cuff tear include:

  • Pain, usually located over the outside of the shoulder and upper arm
  • Loss of range of motion of shoulder
  • Weakness while lifting or rotating the arm
  • Clicking or popping sensation while moving the shoulder



Physical examination of the shoulder and tests like x-ray, ultrasound and MRI help your doctor to diagnose rotator cuff tear. The doctor takes medical history and examines the shoulder to see for any tenderness or deformity. He will assess the strength of the arm by measuring the range of motion in different directions. Imaging tests like MRI or ultrasound can help determine the size and location of the tear.


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