How do rotator cuff tears happen? The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that provide your shoulder with stability. The four muscles are called your supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The most commonly torn muscle of the four is the supraspinatus muscle. Tears typically happen due to overuse of the muscle and when performing repetitive overhead motions. At the age of 40, the chances of tearing a rotator cuff muscle increases. Although tears typically happen due to repetitive motions, you can also tear a rotator cuff muscles by some sort of trauma occurring or by an acute accident (for example: a fall or heavy lifting).
How do I know if I tore or injured my rotator cuff? You should always consult with your physician first. However, some signs and symptoms to look out for are immediate, pin-point pain in the shoulder (this could be an acute tear), pain when laying on the affected shoulder, restricted range of motion or weakness through the affected shoulder, or a dull/aching pain the in shoulder (typically causes by the overuse of it).
Do I have to get surgery if I tore my rotator cuff? The short answer is no. Whether or not you require surgery is up to your physician. Often times, physicians may prescribe a more conservative approach before recommending surgery. This of course depends on the severity of your tear/injury. A more conservative approach may consist of physical therapy for strengthening and postural education, anti-inflammatory medication, and/or a cortisone shot.
I got rotator cuff surgery, what happens next? More than likely, you will have to wear a sling for at least 6 weeks in order to protect your shoulder and to assure proper healing of your repair. Once cleared for movement at the shoulder joint, physical therapy will focus on regaining range of motion in all directions and strengthening the shoulder.