Rotator Cuff Tears

What is it?

A tear in the muscle/tendon of the shoulder muscles. There are 2 types:

Partial thickness tears:

  • Difficult to diagnose solely on physical findings. Imaging is important.
  • Tears occur between the ages 30-55.
  • Different from tendonitis, tests more painful, more severe clinical signs.

Full thickness tears:

  • Patient normally over the age of 40.
  • The amount of weakness on muscle testing and range of active motion help distinguish between a partial and full tear. Difficult to diagnose solely on physical findings. Imaging is important.

What are the causes?

  • Acute macro trauma (shoulder dislocation). Fall on outstretched arm. Sudden eccentric overload
  • Due to progressive deterioration with the aging process, microtrauma, localized loss of blood supply (ischeamia) or chronic impingement.

NOTE: Cuff tears have a 95% association with subacromial impingement.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain in shoulder & upper arm
  • Difficulty lifting arm, particularly overhead
  • Tears demonstrate major weakness and pain to resisted muscle test

Rotator Cuff Tears - Tendon Tear of Shoulder Muscles