Rotator cuff tears are among the most common shoulder injuries that occur. A sudden, traumatic injury has the potential to cause a rotator cuff tear, but they can also result from degenerative wear and tear on the tendons of the shoulder over time. Performing certain jobs can increase your likelihood of a rotator cuff tear. According to the Mayo Clinic, repetitive overhead arm movements are a significant risk factor for a tear. These types of movement are often necessary for jobs related to construction, such as carpentry or painting. Other risk factors include family history, age and playing certain sports.
If you have a rotator cuff tear, you may have difficulty performing activities that require you to reach behind your back, such as combing your hair. You may experience a dull ache in your shoulder that becomes worse when you lie on the affected shoulder, possibly disturbing your sleep. In addition to pain, you may also experience weakness of your arm. If you have arm weakness that comes on suddenly following an injury, you should see a doctor right away.
Problems with the rotator cuff can get worse over time in the absence of treatment, potentially resulting in permanent weakness or loss of shoulder range of motion. Injections to the shoulder can help relieve pain in the short term, but due to the potential for further tendon weakening with repeat injections, this is not a viable long-term solution. Many rotator cuff injuries heal with physical therapy, rest, ice and other conservative treatment measures, but if these are not effective, you may require surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff tendon. In the event that the tendon is too damaged to repair, your doctor can transfer a healthy tendon to take its place. You may require a shoulder joint replacement for a massive rotator cuff tear.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.