If you’re unsure whether you’re experiencing rotator cuff tear symptoms, here’s a list of signs to look for.
In this article:
- Sudden Tearing Sensation Followed by Severe Pain
- Acute Pain
- A Decrease in Range of Motion
- Gradual Shoulder Weakness
- Muscle Spasm
6 Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms You May Have
1. Sudden Tearing Sensation Followed by Severe Pain
One of the rotator cuff tear symptoms is the tearing or cracking sensation followed by severe pain. The pain starts from the shoulder and radiates down to the upper arm, resulting in a decrease in range of motion. This follows acute injuries, like a fall, or tendon degeneration (also known as age-related wear).
2. Acute Pain
Acute pain in the shoulder joint is caused by inflammation of the shoulder bursa, a saclike cavity located at the points of friction between the rotator cuff tendons and the acromion process. The pain typically occurs or worsens at night.
3. A Decrease in Range of Motion
A chronic rotator cuff tear also removes the ability to raise the arm towards the side, front, or back. When the arm is raised at shoulder level, the space between the rotator cuff and acromion narrows. This causes the acromion process to rub against the bursa and tendon, causing pain and irritation.
4. Gradual Shoulder Weakness
Pain developing in the shoulder joint gradually leads to shoulder weakness. This is because of the degenerative changes in the affected tendon that do not only decrease shoulder movements but also its function in general.
There are two reasons why inflammation develops in a shoulder rotator cuff. The first reason is rotator cuff tendonitis. It is a condition where the tendons and muscles that support the shoulder joint get irritated and inflamed. This happens when the shoulder assumes one position for a long period of time like when sleeping or overreaching.
The other reason is irritation of the shoulder bursa. This condition is called bursitis which occurs because of a sudden and serious rotator cuff injury. The injury may have been caused by a repetitive impact on the area or aging. As the body ages, tendons become fragile and tolerate less stress.
6. Muscle Spasm
Muscle spasm is also another sign of a rotator cuff tear. When this happens, the muscles around the rotator cuff area involuntarily contract, leading to severe pain. The muscles also don’t allow small adjustments within the joint, eliminating the smooth motion of the humeral head.
For more about rotator cuff tear, watch this video from Dr. David Geier:
If you feel like you’re experiencing rotator cuff tear symptoms, do not hesitate to see a doctor. He or she can help plan the proper treatment towards recovery. You can take immediate first aid actions such as an alternating hot or cold compress, rest, elevation of the affected shoulder, and pain relievers, specifically anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prior to your consultation.
How did you manage your rotator cuff tear? What home relief options did you try? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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