What Causes a Rotator Cuff Tear?

In general terms, when we’re speaking of rotator cuff tears, there’s two categories. There’s a degenerative tear that occurs with repetitive use over time. We usually see that more as people age and get into their late 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, and then there’s a traumatic classification of rotator cuff tear where people have a nice, healthy rotator cuff, they’re involved in either a car accident, a sporting injury, or some other kind of high-energy trauma and they tear their rotator cuff that way. And so, we kind of see these two very distinct camps. They behave differently. They’re treated differently. One is a very sudden onset acute injury.

And really, for young people that in order to tear the rotator cuff, it takes quite a bit of force or energy to do so. It’s a really uncommon injury in teens or people in their 20s who are healthy, even no matter what their activity level is.

However, as people get into their 40s, 50s and 60s, it’s a very, very common injury that we see and it takes very little force at times. Most of the time those patients are coming in saying, “I don’t even recall any kind of injury whatsoever. It just started on its own.”

So, there are kind of different clinical scenarios that patients will find themselves in, and we have to take that into consideration as we make recommendations regarding treatment moving forward.

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Dr. Kyle McClintock

Dr. Kyle McClintock, an Orthopedic Surgeon with practices in Roseville and Folsom, specializes in the shoulder and elbow, aiding patients in resuming their daily activities.

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