Skip to main content

Rotator Cuff Tear

Southwest Orthopedic Group, LLP

Orthopedic Surgery located in Houston, TX & The Greater Houston Area

Athletes who engage in overhead throwing have a high risk for rotator cuff tears, but everyone is susceptible to this shoulder injury, which often develops from everyday wear-and-tear. The experienced physicians at Southwest Orthopedic Group, LLP, have helped patients of all ages and athletic abilities recover from rotator cuff tears, providing expert surgical repair when needed. If you need to schedule an appointment for shoulder pain, call one of the several Southwest Orthpedic Group offices in Houston, Texas, and the greater Houston area.

Rotator Cuff Tear Q & A

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that transition into tendons and merge to insert on the top of your humerus (upper arm bone). These muscles and tendons help stabilize your shoulder joint while allowing for full range of arm motion.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

Most rotator cuff tears occur in the tendons. At first, the tendon may begin to fray; over time, the damage can worsen and result in tears.

Rotator cuff tears can be caused by:

Acute injury

You can damage the rotator cuff by falling onto an outstretched arm or by lifting something heavy. Other injuries, such as shoulder dislocation, may also cause rotator cuff tearing.

Gradual degeneration

Most rotator cuff tears develop gradually from degeneration that occurs over years. Microtears in the tendons cause inflammation that weakens the fibers. These small tears can worsen over time, slowly resulting in a partial or full thickness tear.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

At first, non-traumatic rotator cuff tears may not cause any symptoms. When you begin to notice a problem, you may experience:

  • Pain if you lie on the affected shoulder
  • Pain when raising and/or lowering your arm
  • Pain with other specific arm movements
  • Weakness in your arm
  • Crackling or popping sensation (crepitus)


In contrast, an acute tear immediately causes severe pain and noticeable arm weakness and stiffness.

How are rotator cuff tears treated?

Full thickness rotator cuff tears can progressively worsen and get larger if you continue to use your shoulder without treating the injury. Partial thickness tears often respond to nonoperative treatment. When planning your treatment, your doctor at Southwest Orthopedic Group, LLP considers your age, overall health, activity goals, and the severity and type of rotator cuff tear.

Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, modifying your activities, exercises, and possible physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend a steroid injection to alleviate inflammation and pain.

Do I need arthroscopic surgery for a rotator cuff tear?

The need for surgical repair of rotator cuff tears depends on numerous factors. This is therefor best discussed with a physician well oriented in managing such conditions in order to establish the best custom treatment for your symptomatic shoulder.

The team at Southwest Orthopedic Group, LLP repairs your rotator cuff using minimally invasive surgery. This type of procedure results in less postoperative pain, promotes faster return to light activities, and leaves minimal scarring.

It’s important to get early treatment for shoulder or arm pain. So if you have shoulder pain, call Southwest Orthopedic Group, LLP to schedule an appointment.