Did I Tear My Rotator Cuff?
So, a lot of times when patients come in and are complaining of shoulder pain, the thing that comes to their mind, first of all, is “did I tear my rotator cuff?”
The common things that we see with rotator cuff tears is ongoing pain and weakness of the shoulder. Specifically, the things that I hear most frequently are trouble with overhead reaching activities and difficulty sleeping at night. People have trouble laying on that shoulder and it’ll often wake them up from sleep or make it difficult for them to fall asleep.
Really, the only way to know if you have a tear in your rotator cuff, for the most part, is to undergo some advanced imaging, such as an MRI or an ultrasound, by someone who’s trained in musculoskeletal ultrasound. That’s how we can definitively diagnose a rotator cuff tear.
But… oftentimes a physical exam gives us a lot of the signs that we need to kind of have a really strong suspicion that that’s what’s going on.
I always recommend to patients, if they’re having ongoing pain in their shoulder, and they’ve tried simple things like over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, stretching exercises, maybe some ice, and a little bit of rest, that If you’re still having pain with reaching activities, if you’re still having trouble sleeping at night, then that’s when it’s a reasonable time to come in and see your physician so they can take a look at you and start treating that condition because there’s probably something more significant going on underneath the surface.