How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury that is caused by constant overhead motions. Many times it may be asymptomatic, but it can be a source of restricted movement and constant shoulder pain. Often the restricted movement is not noticeable as the pain associated with this movement can be minimal. These symptoms can affect your day to day life in significant ways, especially if your work or hobby requires movement of your shoulders.

How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

The Causes

The most common sources of a rotator cuff injuries come from constant overhead motions. These overhead motions are involved in constant lifting or jerking motions such as those involved in sports. As such, the injury is more likely for those who play sports that involve throwing or hitting a ball, such as baseball and tennis. It is also fairly common for those who place their shoulder in constant movement under resistance, such as in swimming.

Finally, any sort of work that involves lifting things overhead throughout the day can be the cause of a rotator cuff tear. This means people such as carpenters, painters, and others whose jobs involve physical labor are prone to these injuries. Due to their sometimes asymptomatic nature, tears can go unnoticed for years until the problem worsens to the point of causing pain.

The Diagnosis

The rotator cuff tear will be identified by viewing an x-ray. The tear itself can take place in one or more of the tendons within four muscles that are in the shoulder. These muscles are collectively known as the rotator cuff muscles. The tear can be easily identified through an x-ray as the tendons will appear inflamed or enlarged.

Tears can also cause other symptoms that may appear unnoticeable to the person who is suffering from the tear. These symptoms include a strange gate or incomplete movement of the shoulder. There will also be poor blood supply to the region, especially in older people who have had a tear over time. A rotator cuff tear with these symptoms is usually referred to as a chronic tear.

Acute tears are caused by sudden jerking motions. These tears often occur in car accidents and other sudden and unexpected forces, although the force that causes the tear can also be light or modest. An acute tear can cause immediate pain, although the onset of the pain may also be delayed. That can be why you don’t feel the full effects of a car accident until a day or two later.

The nature of a rotator cuff tear can affect many aspects of your lifestyle if your hobbies or work require free shoulder movement. If you are experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort in your shoulder and your lifestyle makes you more susceptible to tearing your rotator cuff, you should go and get your shoulder checked. A doctor will be able to diagnose the problem with a quick x-ray and put you on a program that can lead to the end of your shoulder pain.

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