Torn Rotator Cuff

Torn Rotator Cuff

A torn rotator cuff is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Patients with a rotator cuff injury often complain of pain, weakness, and difficulty sleeping on the injured shoulder.


Left unattended, rotator cuff injuries can linger for years, causing ongoing pain, larger tears, and permanent joint damage.


If you have pain when you lift your arms, comb your hair, or even reach into your back pocket, contact the orthopedic specialists at BayCare Clinic. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can heal faster and avoid more significant damage.


Torn Rotator Cuff: Causes

When we talk about your rotator, we mean a network of four muscles in the shoulder area. These muscles help lift and rotate your upper arm. 


Torn rotator cuffs are most common among people over the age of 40.  As we age, our tissue weakens, making us more prone to injuries. Rotator cuff injuries are often caused by sports, repeated lifting or reaching, or a shoulder collision.


It's very common for people to reinjure their rotator cuff.  Each time your rotator cuff is injured, scar tissue builds up. The more scar tissue, the more you lose your range of motion. Eventually, you can end up with chronic pain and shoulder arthritis. To reduce scar tissue build-up, you want to speed-up the healing process and make sure you are fully healed before returning to normal activity.


Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms

A person with a torn rotator cuff generally feels pain along the top and outside of the shoulder, particularly when the arm is raised. Many patients report trouble sleeping or say that their shoulder feels weak. Simple daily tasks like getting dressed and shampooing your hair can be painful.


Treatment for a Torn Rotator Cuff

An orthopedic specialist at BayCare Clinic will examine your shoulder, test your arm strength, and evaluate your range of motion. Your doctor may also order an x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. 


Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, hot or cold packs, steroid injection, or anti-inflammatory medication. If you have a large tear or have experienced pain for a long period of time, orthopedic surgery may be required. 


Whenever possible, the orthopedic surgeons at BayCare Clinic will recommend arthroscopy, a minimally invasive way to repair shoulder problems. This is often referred to as a shoulder scope. In some advanced cases, your surgeon may recommend shoulder replacement.


The goal of any treatment plan is to reduce pain, improve mobility, and reduce the likelihood of further injury. As our patient, you will receive individualized care designed to return you to your normal activities as quickly and safely as possible.



Please call our office or request an appointment online.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.