About Rotator Cuff Tears

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, nonsurgical treatment may be the best option to relieve pain and improve function. 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.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tear

Symptoms of rotator cuff tear can vary based on the severity of your injury.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tear may include:

  • Crepitus or crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions
  • 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

Risk Factors for Rotator Cuff Tear

Certain people are at greater risk of tearing their rotator cuff.

Risk factors for rotator cuff tear may include:

  • Age: People over the age of 40 are more likely to tear their rotator cuff
  • Family history: People with a family history of shoulder problems may be at greater risk of rotator cuff injury
  • Personal history: Poor posture and smoking can increase your risk of rotator cuff tear, as can working as a mechanic, athlete, or any other profession that involves repetitive shoulder movements

Treating Rotator Cuff Tear 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 your shoulder sprain and function do 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

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Sports and Injury Clinic care team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more, who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We also collaborate with our colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin and the Dell Medical School to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide you with comprehensive, whole-person orthopedic care to help you meet your goals. Treatment may include non-surgical interventions, such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, or medication and injections, or surgery may be the best course of action to help improve your pain and function. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Musculoskeletal Institute

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions

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Sports and Injury Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions