Signs and Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear

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Your rotator cuff includes a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. Its main purpose is to maintain the stability of the upper arm to the shoulder socket while keeping it in place. When you experience a rotator cuff injury causing a tear, it requires immediate medical attention at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta.

The severity of your injury will depend on the trauma that causes it. A rotator cuff tear can result in different symptoms, including shoulder pain, shoulder weakness, or tendon pain, that all make everyday tasks difficult. Most of our patients who have a rotator cuff injury complain of a dull ache that worsens over time. Dr. Christopher Williams offers professional rotator cuff treatment for those experiencing a rotator cuff tear. Learn more about these treatments by contacting our Atlanta, GA facility to schedule your consultation.

What is a rotator cuff tear?

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone, the shoulder blade, and the collarbone. Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that fits into the socket in your shoulder blade. Your arm is kept in place by the rotator cuff, which is a group of muscles that come together to cover the upper arm bone, the humerus. The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps you to both lift and rotate your arm. The bursa is a lubricating sac that allows these tendons to move freely. When the rotator cuff tendons are damaged, this bursa can become inflamed and painful.

When one or more of these tendons are torn, they can no longer completely attach to the humerus. There are two main types of tears:

  1. Partial tear: This incomplete tear damages the tendon but doesn’t completely sever it.

  2. Full-thickness tear: This is a complete tear. It separates all of this tendon from the bone, causing a hole.

Rotator cuff injury symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear is a constant, deep ache in your shoulder. Other symptoms and side effects include:

  • Difficulty sleeping when lying on the injured shoulder

  • Weakness in the arm

  • Numbness

  • Sudden sharp pain

  • Difficulty raising your arm above the head

Prior to recommending any treatment for a rotator cuff tear, Dr. Williams will evaluate your current symptoms and medical history to determine the best procedure for the best results.

What causes rotator cuff tears?

A rotator cuff tear can be caused by an injury or traumatic injury, or be caused by everyday wear and tear. Repetitive movements also contribute to a rotator cuff tear. There are two main causes of rotator cuff tears: injury and degeneration.

Several factors contribute to rotator cuff tears, including:

  • Bone spurs: As we age, we develop bone spurs. When we lift our arms, these spurs can rub on our rotator cuff tendon. This can weaken the tendon over time and make it more likely to tear.

  • Lack of blood supply: The blood supply to our rotator cuff tendons lessens as we get older. Without proper blood supply, our body’s natural ability to repair the damage is impaired.

  • Repetitive stress: Repetitive motion can put stress on your muscles and tendons and increase your risk of a tear.

After we determine the exact cause of your rotator cuff tear at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, Dr. Williams can provide you with any recommendations to prevent future injuries to your shoulder and rotator cuff.

Rotator cuff treatments

In some cases, conservative methods are all that a patient needs to treat their rotator cuff tear. These can include rest, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medication. If none of these alleviate all of your symptoms, Dr. Williams may then suggest steroid injections into the shoulder to help provide pain relief. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear. After your consultation in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Williams can explain these treatment options and let you know what you can expect throughout your treatment process.

Find pain relief today from your rotator cuff injury

A rotator cuff tear can greatly affect how we perform everyday tasks, leading to weakness, pain, and difficulty sleeping. At our Atlanta, GA office, Dr. Christopher Williams can diagnose and treat rotator cuff tears to allow his patients to live more comfortably. Contact Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to learn more about rotator cuff treatments and to schedule your initial consultation today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.