Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms

Painfull Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms

The Signs Of A Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears are pretty common shoulder injuries and many sportspeople and athletes suffer from rotator cuff injuries at some stage.

Many bodybuilding enthusiasts find themselves pushing themselves too hard and ending up with a rotator cuff injury if they’re unlucky.

This isn’t to say that you need to be exercising to develop some torn rotator cuff symptoms because it can happen at work, at play or even something as simple a moving a piece of furniture.

This article can show you all the signs of a torn rotator cuff to look for and can let you know exactly how it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated and what sort of therapy is available for those individuals who have a possible rotator cuff injury.

To find out more read on.


signs of a torn rotator cuff

What Is A Rotator Cuff?

What Does It Do?

Your rotator cuff is a group of tendons (and muscles) that work together to stabilize the shoulder joint.

These tendons play an important role in your body and are connected to four muscles that allow your shoulder to move in various directions. (1)

The ball and socket nature of the rotator cuff allow for the range of motion that no other body part has.

When these tendons are damaged, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.



How Do You Get A Rotator Cuff Injury

How Do You Get A Rotator Cuff Injury?

How Does It Happen?

While the causes of a torn rotator cuff range from repetitive strain to active injury, early detection is important for prompt treatment.

Some of the ways an injury can occur include:

Gradual Damage

A tear can be the result of a slow process where gradual damage occurs such as performing exercises incorrectly or just using the shoulders to rotate at an awkward angle.

Sleeping Positions

Sleeping in unusual positions could lead to a slow tear as the shoulder joint could get placed in compromising positions.

Weak Muscles

A lot can be attributed to actions, but some of the reason an injury could occur may be atrophied muscle from lack of use that doesn’t support the shoulder optimally.

Contact Activites

Rotator cuff injuries occur in a contact sport where unnatural angles may place limbs in danger of muscle strains or sprains.

Resistance Training

Performing heavy weight lifting exercises can mean that bodybuilding is a particularly risky endeavor. The tension on the rotator cuff could be too much especially if the exercise is done with poor form.


Sport is a frequent contributor to rotator cuff injuries. The angles used by a baseball pitcher are such that many pitchers suffer wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries.

Boxing, skipping using HIIT training, football, javelin throw, and gymnastics can all potentially injure the shoulder area.

Tennis players are also quite prone to rotator cuff damage.

What Does This All Mean?

There are many daily activities that can cause a tear in the rotator cuff. Many of the injuries can be avoided.



Rotator Cuff Injury Signs

7 Signs Of A Torn Rotator Cuff

What To Look For

If you’ve ever wondered about the symptoms of a torn rotator cuff, these are the primary ones to look for:

Gradual Pain

The reason why you may not notice that you have an injury is that a rotator cuff tear may not cause immediate pain but instead appear as gradual pain.

Many people don’t even notice that they have an injury until a day after the tendons are damaged. During the first days after an injury, you may notice a mild pain that will progress to a point where moving your shoulder joint causes extreme pain.

Progressively worsening pain to your shoulder is a primary sign although it often goes unnoticed.

Sharp, Short Widespread Pain

One of the surprising aspects of a torn rotator cuff is that you may have pain in areas other than your shoulder.

The primary points of pain for this injury are in the front and the side of the shoulder. You may notice that it increases when you move your shoulder away from your body.

Any physical activities like golf, tennis, or swimming may increase this pain.

People with torn rotator cuffs also notice that their pain spreads down from their shoulder to the upper arm and even the elbow region.

If you suspect a torn rotator cuff, don’t be surprised if your pain isn’t localized to your shoulder.

Decreased Mobility

Anyone with a torn rotator cuff generally has more difficulty lifting the arm away from the body.

This decreased range of motion is common although it may not happen in every case.

If your rotator cuff tear is severe, it may actually be impossible to hold your arm up because of pain and the decreased function of the muscles and tendons.

If you’ve noticed that you’re not able to lift your arm out in front of you or to the side as high as your shoulder, you’re experiencing a symptom.

Simple tasks like brushing your hair or reaching behind your back become much harder than expected and possibly painful.

Clicking Noises

If you are able to raise your arm, you may not experience the previous symptom but another common one is a clicking sound that comes from the shoulder region.

Hearing a noise from your shoulder when you raise your arm is a sign that the rotator cuff has been torn or damaged.

It’s also possible to experience a crackling sensation when you move your shoulder into a certain position. Any unusual noises from your shoulder that don’t go away or worsen over time may be symptoms.

Evening Pain

Although some pain may exist at all times, rotator cuff injuries can actually be more painful in the evening.

In fact, most people notice that they feel the most pain when they’re resting on the damaged shoulder.

If the issue progresses, the pain may be so severe that you’re not able to sleep at night without a strong painkiller.

Once again, this pain is progressive and may take some time to be noticed.

Tenderness and Stiffness

Over time, you’ll also notice that your shoulder becomes more stiff if you have a rotator cuff tear.

The inflammation from the tear and a lack of movement can result in a “frozen” shoulder.

These symptoms will get worse over months or years if not treated.

In these cases, you’ll generally experience pain in the shoulder for a few months which is then followed by a stiffness that increases over time.

You may also feel a tenderness in the area due to the inflamed tendons.

Weak Shoulders and Bruising

This symptom isn’t as common as the others but may still happen. It frequently occurs in anyone who has a severe onset of a rotator cuff tear.

When this happens, the shoulder actually starts to develop a bruise and becomes swollen.

Anyone with a rotator cuff tear experiences severe weakness in the shoulder muscle that will get worse over time.

They find that they’re not able to use their joints and shoulder muscles within their normal range of motion.

This symptom generally occurs in anyone who has had a tear due to a sudden injury rather than a gradual stress injury.



Although the symptoms mentioned above are common, keep in mind that not all rotator cuff tears are going to give you these symptoms.

These cases are most common in people who have developed a tear gradually as a result of frequent stress to the shoulder area.

In some cases, the injury will not show any symptoms until you’ve had medical imaging or other tests done that confirm the injury.

What’s The Take Away From This?

There are many signs of a torn rotator cuff, but most of them seem pretty obvious that there is a problem.



Rotator Cuff Injury Diagnosis

Rotator Cuff Injury Diagnosis

Get It Looked At Quickly

You may not notice that you’re having any problems with your shoulder but the injury is still present.

If you do suspect you have a rotator cuff injury, a doctor can confirm your diagnosis with a few tests.

The doctor will first perform a basic physical exam by pressing on different parts of the shoulder and then moving your arm into different positions.

Testing the shoulder for strength and pain is one of the basic ways to rule out a rotator cuff injury.

If still suspected, the doctor may order either an ultrasound or an MRI. The ultrasound is a quick way to compare your healthy and affected shoulder to determine if there is damage.

The MRI shows your shoulder muscles and tendons in greater detail and may be needed for a diagnosis.


Rotator Cuff Therapy
Rotator Cuff Therapy

The Road To Recovery

After a diagnosis, the shoulder will need to be incapacitated for a period of time. If the damage is too much it may require an operation.

Treatment for a rotator cuff tear may include:


These may help to reduce swelling and to possibly eliminate some pain. Anti-inflammatories can also help increase mobility in the joint and area of damage.

Torn Rotator Cuff Surgery

Torn rotator cuff surgery may be necessary if the damage is too great. Possible surgeries could be open shoulder surgery or an arthroscopic surgical procedure. (2)


A patient may be recommended a course of physiotherapy where they rehabilitate the area with safe exercises that support a return of strength and agility.

What Does This Mean For A Rotator Cuff Convalescent?

The best case scenario is that surgery is not required and some therapy could help.



Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises
What About Rehabilitation Of The Shoulder?

Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises

Once someone has determined that they indeed have a rotator cuff injury, the next step will be the road to rehabilitation. If surgery was not required, then an individual may be able to go straight to therapy, otherwise there maybe a longer period of inactivity.

The range of motion of the shoulder joint will be limited, so many shoulder exercises will be completely off the table.

Some shoulder exercises for rehabilitation may include:

Shoulder Stretches

Light Lying Flys

Exercises Band Rotations

High To Low One Arm Rows

Crossed Arm Stretches

These will be performed with light weights, bands or no resistance at all and with high reps. Any attempt to lift heavy like a bodybuilder will likely result in re-injury and further pain.

What’s The Bottom Line Here?

No heavy lifting will be on the cards for quite some time.


shoulder massage
The 7 Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms You Should Know


All of these symptoms are ways to determine if you could have a torn rotator cuff but keep in mind that it’s still important for a doctor to confirm your diagnosis.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, make an appointment quickly to determine the best treatment for your condition.
While not life-threatening, torn rotator cuffs are a serious condition.


We hope you enjoyed “The 7 Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms You Should Know”.  The information on this page is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or ailment – If you have any concerns, please seek professional medical attention.