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Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff consists of a group of four muscles and tendons, (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) which stabilise the ball and socket joint, enabling lifting and rotation of the shoulder. 

These tendons sit under the acromion (top part of the shoulder blade) where damage can be likely to occur. The rotator cuff can tear suddenly as the result of an injury or gradually from wear and tear. A tear may be minor to begin with, but can worsen with repetitive use or injury.

A rotator cuff tear is a very common injury. A tear can occur from lifting or trying to catch heavy objects, falling on an outstretched arm, or overuse. Tendons of the shoulder can be gradually weakened with impingement, and the area of the rotator cuff may suffer from poor blood supply in older age.

It is possible to help to prevent rotator cuff tears by avoiding excessive overhead activities, exercising to strengthen your shoulders and to avoid over-exertion when experiencing any pain.


There will be loss of mobility in lifting and rotating the arm. The arm may feel weak, and there will be pain in the front of the shoulder which spreads down the side of the arm. Pain may be experienced when lifting or reaching above the head and often when sleeping on the shoulder.

When the tear actually happens, a sharp pain may be felt, along with a snapping sensation and immediate weakness in the arm.

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