About Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff tear can weaken and cause pain in your shoulder making daily activities difficult. There are two types of rotator cuff tears, injury and degeneration. Most tears are a result of wearing down of the tendon over time as you age, however, if you fall down on or lift something too heavy with a jerking motion, a sudden tear may occur. Early treatment can prevent your pain and other symptoms from worsening. Depending on the severity of your injury and your activity level, you nonsurgical treatment may be the best option to relieve pain and improve function, however, if improvement does not occur surgical treatment may be required. Our orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers work with you on developing a specialized treatment plan with your goals in mind with a team dedicated to helping you every step of the way.

The most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
  • Crepitus or crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions

Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment at UT Health Austin

Upon evaluation of your shoulder, including imaging, your orthopedic provider will discuss nonsurgical treatment option as an initial approach to healing the tear and improving function. These options often include activity modifications and rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy and strengthening exercises and in some cases steroid injections. In rare cases, arthroscopic surgery may be suggested as a treatment option if the pain does not improve. Your care team will walk you through the risks and benefits as well as what to expect throughout your recovery process.

Care Team Approach

We have assembled a team of experts that includes hip and knee orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and social workers. This team enables us to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time. For some patients, nonsurgical interventions such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, medication and injections can help improve pain and function, while surgery may be the best course of action for others. Whatever your needs, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.