What Can Cause A Rotator Cuff Tear?
There are two main causes for rotator cuff tears; injury and degeneration. An injury caused rotator cuff tear often occurs when someone falls and attempts to catch themselves with their arms. Degenerative tears are caused by the overuse of the shoulder. This is why rotator cuff tears are more common in the aging population.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Rotator Cuff Tear?
Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms Include:
Pain when resting or at night, especially when your lying on the affected shoulder
Weakness when lifting the affected arm
Pain when lifting the affected arm or doing specific movements
How Do You Test For a Rotator Cuff Tear?
Drop Arm Test
To do this, reach the painful arm up to just below shoulder height with your thumb facing toward the ground. Next, have someone push on the top of your arm in an attempt to push it toward the ground. If the rotator cuff is torn, the arm will not be able to withstand the resistance and your arm will fall back toward the ground. You may not even be able to put your arm in the original position for the test, which is a definite sign of a rotator cuff tear.
The Scratch Test
To do this, you should try to touch the opposite shoulder blade by reaching over the top of the shoulder. This helps tests range of motion for abduction and external rotation. Next, you should try to touch the opposite shoulder blade by reaching down and across the middle of your back. This tests internal rotation and adduction ability. If this is difficult or you are unable to do one or either, this may be a sign of a rotator cuff tear.
Infraspinatus/Teres Minor Examination
While the name may sound complicated, this test is actually quite simple to do. Simply put both arms against your sides and with your hands in fists, lift your forearms so that they are at a 90 degree angle. Next, have someone put resistance against your arms as you try to push them outward. Those who struggle with this may have a rotator cuff tear.
What To Do Next
After performing these tests, you may come to the conclusion that you have a rotator cuff tear. The next step would be to go see your primary care physician or physical therapist for a proper diagnosis. After diagnosis, they may suggest at-home therapy or if the tear is severe enough, rotator cuff tear surgery. In both cases, shoulder pulleys are used after as part of a therapy regimen.
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