Rotator Cuff Tear


The rotator cuff can be torn in a single traumatic injury but more often, it is the result of overuse of the shoulder through repetitive motions, such as pitching or throwing a ball, lifting weights or hitting a tennis ball. It is one of the most common types of sports-related shoulder injuries.

If you're experiencing pain in the area you'll want to see a specialist at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program who can make an accurate diagnosis using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques. In fact, the program is renowned for its use of leading edge technologies to improve the outcomes of sports-related injuries, including rotator cuff tears.


Rotator Cuff Tear Causes

As noted, a rotator cuff tear can happen suddenly in a single, traumatic injury. However, it's more likely that the tear will occur over time, as the individual participates in sports that require repetitive overhead motions involving the arm and shoulders, such as rowing, baseball, tennis or weight lifting. A cuff tear can also happen at the same time the shoulder suffers another injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. Usually though, the tear occurs because of overuse of these muscles and tendons over a period of years.



Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can either develop immediately at the moment of the injury or gradually. If a tear occurs with an injury, there could be sudden pain, a snapping sensation or immediate weakness in the arm.

If the symptoms appear over time due to repetitive overhead activity, a pain in the front of the shoulder may radiate down the side of the arm. At first, it may appear mild and only during the activity itself.

Other symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Atrophy or thinning of the muscles about the shoulder.
  • Pain when lifting the arm.
  • Pain when lowering the arm from a fully raised position.
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating the arm.
  • Crackling sensation when moving the shoulder in certain positions.

If you suspect you have a rotator cuff tear, one of the specialists at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Sports Medicine Program will conduct a thorough examination of your shoulder and may order x-rays, an MRI or CT scan to get a more detailed look at the injury.



In many cases, a rotator cuff tear can be treated non-surgically. These treatments will help relieve pain and improve the function of the shoulder.

Non-surgical treatment options may include:

  • Rest and limited overhead activity
  • Use of a sling
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Steroid injection
  • Strengthening exercise and physical therapy



If you have questions about rotator cuff tears or want to make an appointment, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to assist you.