The rotator cuff is a unique grouping of muscles and tendons that keep your arm bone inside the shoulder socket. There are few muscle groups that get used more often than the rotator cuff because practically every movement of your arm moves it, which is why a rotator cuff tear can be so painful and debilitating.

An overused or injured rotator cuff can actually tear liked a ripped or frayed piece of paper. This injury is common and not always painful. Many people with rotator cuff tears experience arm stiffness, shoulder weakness, and popping noises when moving the arm but not necessarily any pain beyond a dull soreness. The subtleness of the symptoms can mislead many people to think that they won’t need any medical treatments to address the rotator cuff tear, which can cause a myriad of problems later.


Some bad news about rotator cuff tears is that most of them don’t heal naturally. Torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons need significant rest to start the healing process. But the activity of the average rotator cuff means that rest is not something that comes easy or at all. Just reaching up to grab a box of cereal or using a steering wheel can be too much strain on an injured rotator cuff to allow it to heal.

Even though a rotator cuff might not heal on its own, it is possible to regain some mobility in the affected arm and shoulder. Avoiding strenuous activity can allow the injury to partially heal. You can also relearn how to use the affected arm in ways that aggravate the torn rotator cuff less. However, if you want to use that arm and shoulder again as you did before the injury, then you should talk to your doctor about more aggressive treatment, which may include rotator cuff repair surgery.


Doctors generally prefer to avoid prescribing rotator cuff tear repair surgeries, even though many rotator cuff injuries could benefit from the procedure. The reason for this aversion is that surgeries always carry inherent risks of complications and chances of making things worse. Rotator cuffs are somewhat difficult to operate on because the torn tissue can be concealed inside the shoulder joint, so even veteran surgeons can make a mistake during the procedure.

To this end, a high percentage of rotator cuff injuries may benefit from surgery but a lower percentage of them will actually be addressed by it. Instead, your doctor will probably explore several medical alternatives first, like painkillers, immobilization, and physical therapy. If symptoms persist after 6 months, your doctor may want to consider surgery.


If a torn rotator cuff isn’t treated at all, then there is a good chance that it will get worse as time passes.

Worsening symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include:

  • Increased and constant pain
  • Insomnia due to the pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inability to grasp with the affected hand
  • Muscular weakness in the affected arm
  • Sensitivity to touch in the affected shoulder

Although you may not need surgery to address your torn rotator cuff, you should plan on doing something about it. Otherwise, it will more than likely worsen to the point where you wish you had explored medical treatment options earlier.


Did you suffer a rotator cuff injury due to someone else’s mistakes? These injuries are common in car accidents and slip-and-fall accidents, for example. If you weren’t to blame for your accident, then the person or entity who was should be the one to pay for your medical treatments.

Getting your medical treatments paid for by another insurance company could be difficult though. It is recommended that you speak with a local personal injury attorney to discuss filing a claim against the liable party. If you live in Walnut Creek, California, then Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook may be able to help you start a claim or lawsuit. Contact our firm today to learn more.