Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include a dull ache deep in the shoulder, the inability to sleep, difficulty lifting the arm towards the head or reaching behind the back, and general arm weakness, according to Mayo Clinic. Because some rotator cuff injuries require surgery, time is of the essence, and consultation with a shoulder specialist is recommended as soon as possible following an injury.
The rotator cuff is composed of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and keep the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket, explains Mayo Clinic. Tears and other injuries to the rotator cuff, such as bone spurs in the bones around the shoulder, generally occur due to prolonged degeneration over time, caused by repetitive overhead motions from activities, age, occupation and family history. It is not uncommon to see this type of injury in many athletes, such as baseball or tennis players.
Treatment of a rotator cuff tear depends on the scope and severity of the injury, but some treatment options include medication, rest, heat and cold application, and physical therapy, according to WebMD. In more severe cases, surgery is necessary to repair the injury, particularly if the injury was sudden or if there is no improvement after three to six months of alternative treatment options.