Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator Cuff Tear, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineA tear to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder is called a rotator cuff strain or tear. The injury is common in throwing and racket sports, and may range from mild to severe. The job of the rotator cuff is to rotate the arm at the shoulder and provider support around the joint.

Treatment in case of rotator cuff tears will begin by reducing pain and inflammation, followed by a comprehensive rehabilitation program including mobility and specific exercises to strength the muscles. Salient, dependable, and board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute provide treatments for rotator cuff tears to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada and surrounding locations in this area of the southwest.



Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear will include sudden pain in the shoulder, which may be accompanied by a feeling of tearing. The pain may radiate down into the arm.

Signs of shoulder impingement may occur where the tendon pinches between the ball and socket of the shoulder joint when moving the arm out over head height. Pain may worsen over time and weakness in the shoulder may progress to a point where the patient is unable to lift the arm up to the side.


PRICE Therapy

The basic first aid for a rotator cuff tear in the muscle or tendon involves rest and application of PRICE principles – protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ice or cold therapy should be applied quickly to stop the swelling, inflammation and pain from worsening. The patient can use ice therapy for 10 minutes every hour, reducing it to three to four times a day as pain mitigates.

For more severe rotator cuff injuries, a sling can sometimes be more useful. Once the acute phase has passed, the patient can begin mobility and strengthening exercises as long as no pain occurs. If the PRICE efforts do not help to eliminate the pain and restore the shoulder movement, the patient will require professional medical treatment.


Orthopedic Treatment

To start with, an orthopedic surgeon may prescribe pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs to address a rotator cuff tear. The surgeon may order imaging studies such as x-rays or MRI to determine the exact diagnosis and rule out a fracture. Some patients may have to receive a steroid injection directly into the site of the problem to help improve inflammation and enable the patient to proceed with rehabilitation.

Once the pain is eliminated, the surgeon will recommend a full rehabilitation program including stretching and strengthening exercises. Shoulder massage, including cross friction massage, to the rotator cuff tendon can break the injury down to its acute stage to allow correct healing of the injury to occur.

Range of motion and mobility exercises in the shoulder joint should start as soon as these can be performed without any pain. The first priority is pendulum exercises, particularly if it is a severe tear or following surgery. Stellar, committed, and board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada and nearby areas in this part of southeast Nevada for rotator cuff injury treatments and surgery.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9393.

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