Main Causes of a Rotator Cuff Tear

As it is the most flexible joint in the body, the shoulder is at risk for many different types of injuries. On the top of the shoulder, right where it meets the top arm bone is a grouping of tendons and muscles that work together as the rotator cuff. Serious tears in the rotator cuff generally require surgical repair using arthroscopic surgery techniques. There are three common causes for rotator cuff injuries and tears:

  1. Acute tear. An acute tear injury is seen most often from a harsh fall, accident, or sports injury. For example, a football player gets tackled too hard and tears his rotator cuff because he used his shoulder to break his fall.
  2. Degenerative tear. Degenerative tears occur slowly over time and are result of repetitive stress. Repeating the same motion over and over creates a groove or weakness in the tendons, and can eventually sever one or all of the tendons in the joint. This type of tear is often seen in athletes, specifically those who play baseball, basketball, football, tennis, swimming, and rowing. A rotator cuff tear is a serious injury that requires extensive physical therapy post-surgery. A degenerative tear is considered an athlete’s “worst nightmare,” because it could potentially have permanent impacts.
  3. Lack of blood supply/impingement. These issues are generally seen with age. The older the person, the less blood flows into the rotator cuff, weakening the tendon’s ability to heal itself over time. Bone spurs are also common in the elderly, which can cause impingement. Bone spurs grow at the top of the humerus (bone located above the elbow) and when someone raises their arms above their head, the bone spur can weaken and tear the tendons that create the rotator cuff.

If you are an athlete, the best way to avoid injury to your rotator cuff is to keep your shoulders strong. Talk to your trainer or physical therapist about any weakness you may experience in your shoulder, and have him or her recommend exercises for you to help strengthen the area. Always be sure to give your shoulders ample rest and ice between practices, games, and competitions.

Sports Medicine in Worcester

If you are suffering from shoulder pain, weakness, or have torn your rotator cuff and want to learn more about your treatment options, contact us today.  Our offices are located in Worcester, proudly serving the surrounding areas.  Schedule your appointment today at (508) 363-6363.  We hope to hear from you soon.

Posted in: Injury Prevention Tips, News and Updates

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123 Summer St.
Suite 520
Worcester, MA 01608

Tel: 508.363.6363

123 Summer St. Suite 520, Worcester, MA 01608 508.363.6363