Services | Orthopedics and Pain Medicine Physician located in Edison, Clifton, Hazlet, Jersey City and West Orange, NJ | Garden State Pain & Orthopedics

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Rotator Cuff Tear services offered in Edison, Clifton, Hazlet, Jersey City and West Orange, NJ

A rotator cuff tear is a common shoulder injury that brings almost two million people to the doctor each year. The team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists at Garden State Pain & Orthopedics will treat your rotator cuff injury at their state-of-the-art facilities in Edison, Clifton, Hazlet, Paramus, and Jersey City, New Jersey. Call or book an appointment online today if you think you may have a torn rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear Q & A

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear? 

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that hold the head of your upper arm bone (humerus) in your shoulder socket. In addition to stabilizing your shoulder joint, the rotator cuff helps you lift and rotate your arm. A rotator cuff injury happens when one or more of these tendons become damaged or injured. A rotator cuff injury can be partial, incomplete, or may entirely sever the tendon in a full-thickness tear. 

What Causes a Rotator Cuff Tear?

The two main causes of a rotator cuff tear include injury and degeneration.  

Acute Tear 

Acute rotator cuff injuries may occur after an injury, such as falling down on an outstretched arm or while lifting something heavy with improper form. 

Degenerative Tear

Degenerative tears are much more common and happen slowly, usually to the dominant arm. Repetitive stress from arm motions such as throwing a ball, weightlifting, or even painting a house can cause the rotator cuff to wear down and fray. These tears are more common with increasing age since the blood supply to your rotator cuff tendon lessens over time. The body requires a steady supply of blood flowing through an area to initiate repairs, so the less blood that goes to the tendon, the slower a rotator cuff injury can be repaired, which leads to more frequent tears and injuries over time.

Rotator Cuff Injury Risk Factors

  • Age: The most dangerous aspect of rotator cuff injuries is how they can occur because of age. People aged over forty are at much greater risk of injury, especially if they do any overhead activity or repetitive lifting. 
  • Occupation: Athletes, painters, mechanics, and carpenters are at greater risk of rotator cuff injuries as well due to overuse of the tendons. 
  • Poor Posture: When you have poor posture, your circulation is disrupted, which may lead to slower tendon recovery and eventual tears.
  • Family History: If you have family members who suffer from shoulder problems or rotator cuff injuries, this may indicate that you have the same issues. 

How Do I Know If I Have a Rotator Cuff Tear? 

A sudden injury to the rotator cuff tendon may cause immediate effects like intense pain and weakness in the affected arm. This is often the case for an acute tear and requires immediate attention. On the other hand, degenerative tears will have subtler symptoms that grow worse over time. Symptoms of a partial or complete tear include: 


  • Being unable to lift things
  • Difficulty and pain caused by raising your arm.
  • Weakness in the shoulder.
  • Feeling pain when the arm is moved.
  • Hearing clicking or popping when your arm is moved.
  • Pain in the front and/or down the outside of the shoulder
  • Shoulder pain that worsens at night.


Further Tear Complications

One of the worst aspects of a rotator cuff tear is that re-tearing becomes much more likely. Even after being healed, a torn tendon suffers from a higher risk of being torn again, which worsens depending on the size of the original tear. Surgical repair of the problem may lead to problems like: 


  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Loss of Motion
  • Permanent Stiffness
  • Reduced Cuff Strength


Preventing Rotator Cuff Problems

It is important for people in occupations that have a higher risk of suffering from a rotator cuff injury to take frequent breaks. Resting the tendon will allow it to heal and strengthen. Overuse will only weaken the tendon and lower the weight you can carry on your shoulder without injury. It helps to exercise your shoulders to strengthen the muscles and tendons in order to ensure a full range of motion. Stretches and strengthening exercises are common methods of keeping your tendons working well. In case of injury, be sure to apply ice to the area in order to reduce swelling and inflammation. 


Non-Surgical Recovery Options

About 80% of patients find relief from pain and other symptoms of a rotator cuff tear from non-surgical treatments, such as:

  • Rest: The oldest form of recovery, it still provides pain relief and a chance for your body to recover on its own. 
  • Change Your Daily Routine: It is important to avoid activities that would affect your injured shoulder and cause symptoms to worsen. 
  • Exercise: Certain exercises can strengthen the shoulder without aggravating any injuries to your tendon. They can be a key part of physical therapy in order to increase flexibility and your range of motion. 

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Diagnosed and Treated Professionally?

First, your Garden State Pain & Orthopedics physician examines your shoulder and reviews your symptoms and medical history. Be prepared to answer questions like: 

  • Does the pain travel down your arm?
  • Does daily routine aggravate your shoulder pain?
  • Do you feel any weakness or numbness in your arm?
  • Have you ever injured your shoulder?
  • Have you experienced any other symptoms aside from pain?
  • How severe is your pain?
  • Is the shoulder pain connected to any neck pain?
  • What aggravates or relieves your shoulder pain?
  • What worsens your shoulder pain?
  • When did you first begin experiencing shoulder pain?
  • Where exactly is the pain located?

If you have a severe tear or don’t notice improvement with treatment, the Garden State Pain Control team may recommend surgery. Many rotator cuff repairs can be done as a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure. To learn more, call or book an appointment online today.