Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Rotator Cuff Tear Overview

What is a rotator cuff tear?
A person with a rotator cuff tear has torn some of the tendons that surround the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles and their tendons, which surround the top and back of the shoulder. The tendons help hold the humerus and the scapula together, and help move the shoulder. The most common causes of a rotator cuff tear include sports injuries, occupational injuries, heavy lifting, and falls.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?
The most common symptom of a rotator cuff tear is shoulder pain that worsens with movement of the shoulder. Additional symptoms of a rotator cuff tear may include tenderness, stiffness, and arm weakness.

How does the doctor treat a rotator cuff tear?
Initial treatment for a rotator cuff tear may include rest, a sling, cold compresses, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Additional treatment for a rotator cuff tear may include corticosteroid medication injections or surgery.

Continue to Rotator Cuff Tear Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Rotator Cuff Tear References
  1. Baker CL, Whaley AL, Baker M. Arthroscopic rotator cuff tear repair. J Surg Orthop Adv. 2003 Winter;12(4):175-90. [15008280]
  2. Charousset C, Bellaiche L, Duranthon LD, Grimberg J. Accuracy of CT arthrography in the assessment of tears of the rotator cuff. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Jun;87(6):824-8. [15911667]
  3. Kim SH, Ha KI, Park JH, Kang JS, Oh SK, Oh I. Arthroscopic versus mini-open salvage repair of the rotator cuff tear: outcome analysis at 2 to 6 years' follow-up. Arthroscopy. 2003 Sep;19(7):746-54. [12966383]
  4. Laudicina L, D'Ambrosia R. Management of irreparable rotator cuff tears and glenohumeral arthritis. Orthopedics. 2005 Apr;28(4):382-8. [15887585]
  5. McCabe RA, Nicholas SJ, Montgomery KD, Finneran JJ, McHugh MP. The effect of rotator cuff tear size on shoulder strength and range of motion. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005 Mar;35(3):130-5. [15839306]
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