Anatomy of the Rotator Cuff
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. The rotator cuff assists with stabilization and movement. The rotator cuff combines four muscles that form over the head of the humerus. These four muscles originate from the scapula, and include:
- Teres minor
What is a Partial Rotator Cuff Tear?
A rotator cuff tear may result from an acute injury, or may be due to normal age-related wear and tear. A torn partial rotator cuff is defined as a tear that does not go all the way through the tendon. In these cases, damage can occur to the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and/or the teres minor.
What are the Symptoms of a Partial Rotator Cuff Tear?
When a partial rotator cuff tear is present, pain can be present in the front of the shoulder that radiates down the side of the affected arm. Pain may become more intense with overhead activities such as lifting or reaching. Pain can be present when sleeping on the injured side. Weakness may also be present with routine activities such as washing hair or reaching overhead.
How is a Partial Rotator Cuff Injury Diagnosed?
When diagnosing a partial rotator cuff tear, Dr. Yau will obtain thorough history and perform a physical exam to test for weakness, loss of motion, and pain. He may also recommend diagnostic imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize the severity of the injury.
How is a Partial Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?
Treatment for a partial rotator cuff tear typically begins with non-surgical treatment. The goal of non-surgical treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain while strengthening the uninjured muscles around the shoulder to offset the torn muscle or tendon. For non-surgical treatment options, Dr. Yau will prescribe a combination of rest, activity modification, ice/heat, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and physical therapy.