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Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff tear is a tear of one or more of the tendons of the four rotator cuff muscles. A rotator cuff injury can include any type of irritation or damage to the rotator cuff muscles or tendons.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About Rotator Cuff Tears

Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles on your shoulder blade with tendons that attach to the "ball" of your humerus (upper arm bone).

These muscles and tendons help you to lift and rotate your arms. They also help hold the ball of your humerus firmly in your shoulder socket.

What is a rotator cuff tear?

The tendons of your rotator cuff can tear much like a piece of leather. Sometimes, the tendon is only slightly damaged or irritated. Sometimes, the tendon has a complete tear, which means that the tendon has torn away from the bone.

What causes rotator cuff tears?

The tendons of your rotator cuff can tear for a variety of reasons:

  • An injury, such as falling or being hit in the shoulder.
  • Overuse over time from repeated actions, such as lifting, painting, cleaning windows, or throwing.
  • Natural wear and tear from aging.

How rotator cuff tears affect your life

Tears in your... Read more about Rotator Cuff Tears

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Diagnostic tests for assessing rotator cuff tears in people with shoulder pain for whom surgery is being considered

This summary of a Cochrane review presents what we know from research about the accuracy of imaging tests to detect tears of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder.

Comparative Effectiveness of Nonoperative and Operative Treatments for Rotator Cuff Tears [Internet]

The objective of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence examining the effectiveness of nonoperative and operative interventions for the treatment of rotator cuff tears. The report is intended for a broad audience, including professional societies developing clinical practice guidelines, patients and their care providers, as well as researchers conducting studies on treatments of this condition. Outcomes of interest include health-related quality of life, shoulder function, time to return to work, cuff integrity, pain, range of motion and strength of the shoulder.

Surgery for rotator cuff disease

may not lead to any difference in pain compared with different exercise programs.

See all (48)

Summaries for consumers

Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears: A Guide for Adults

This guide will tell you about what research has found regarding the different choices for treating your rotator cuff tear. You can use it to help you and your doctor or other health care provider (nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, physical therapist) discuss and decide what treatments are best for you.

Diagnostic tests for assessing rotator cuff tears in people with shoulder pain for whom surgery is being considered

This summary of a Cochrane review presents what we know from research about the accuracy of imaging tests to detect tears of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder.

Surgery for rotator cuff disease

may not lead to any difference in pain compared with different exercise programs.

See all (6)

More about Rotator Cuff Tears

Photo of an adult

Other terms to know:
Muscles, Shoulder, Tendons

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