Rotator Cuff Tear

If you have a rotator cuff tear or other rotator cuff injury, Rush shoulder experts specialize in relieving pain and restoring your shoulder health.

If you have a rotator cuff tear or other rotator cuff injury, Rush shoulder experts specialize in relieving pain and restoring your shoulder health.

The rotator cuff refers to the four small muscles and tendons coming off the shoulder blade. Its job is to stabilize the shoulder.

Rotator cuff strains or tears can happen suddenly during a fall or accident, or develop over time from repetitive motion (especially overhead motion) and overuse. Bursitis and tendonitis in the shoulder can also be part of a rotator cuff injury. Or the rotator cuff can get pinched between the shoulder joint and bone, causing pain and swelling.

Rotator cuff tears are the most common cause of shoulder pain and disability in adults. A tear weakens the shoulder and makes it difficult or painful to lift your arm overhead — even to do routine things like brushing your hair or getting dressed.

Who's at Risk for a Rotator Cuff Tear?

These are some key reasons you may have a higher risk for a rotator cuff tear:

  • You work in the building trades (painters, carpenters and construction workers)
  • You are an athlete who uses repeated overhead motions (swimmers, baseball players, tennis players, weightlifters)
  • You are over the age of 60
  • You have poor posture (hunched or slumped forward)
  • You have weak shoulder muscles

Strengthening your shoulder muscles and keeping the tendons and ligaments flexible can help you prevent rotator cuff injuries. So can taking frequent breaks from any activity where you use your shoulder a lot.

When to Get Help for a Rotator Cuff Injury

Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can show up right away, after a fall or injury, or they can appear gradually. Either way, see an orthopedic shoulder specialist if you notice any of the following:

  • A deep ache in your shoulder
  • Shoulder pain at night, especially pain that affects your ability to sleep
  • Gradual weakness and decreased shoulder motion as the pain grows worse
  • Difficulty moving your arm out or to the side

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injury at Rush

Nonsurgical Treatment

Most rotator cuff injuries are treated without surgery. To relieve pain and strengthen your shoulder, your orthopedic specialist may recommend the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Rest, including limiting or changing your daily activities

Rotator Cuff Surgery

If your rotator cuff is torn and you're still having pain after trying conservative therapies, surgery may be your best option. For the procedure, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon at Rush who specializes in rotator cuff repair.

  • Surgeons at Rush can do many rotator cuff repairs with arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is almost always successful in relieving pain, and most patients get back the strength in their arms and shoulders.
  • You might need open repair surgery for larger tears, or if you have a more complex issue — for instance, if your surgeon needs to do an additional reconstruction, such as a tendon transfer, or remove bone spurs.

Rotator Cuff Tear Providers at Rush

Learn more about rotator cuff tear providers at Rush. 

Meet our rotator cuff tear providers
Meet our rotator cuff tear providers

Rush Excellence in Rotator Cuff Injury

  • Shoulder experts: If you have a rotator cuff injury, you'll be in the best possible hands at Rush. Our orthopedic surgeons, primary care sports medicine doctors, physiatrists and therapists specialize in shoulder issues. We see thousands of patients each year, providing expert diagnosis and advanced treatments for even the most complex rotator cuff injuries, such as massive tears. We'll draw on that expertise to create a personalized plan to help relieve your pain and restore your shoulder health.
  • Leaders in minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery: Shoulder surgeons at Rush have the most experience in Illinois performing all-arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery. This procedure doesn't require a large incision, so you'll be able to recover faster and with less pain. Our surgeons also often use biologic therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells during surgery to help your shoulder heal faster.
  • Nationally ranked program: U.S. News & World Report ranks Rush University Medical Center No. 8 in the nation for orthopedics