OrthoWashington physicians treat shoulder injuries.


  • Baseball players, especially pitchers
  • Swimmers
  • Tennis players
  • Football players
  • Falling on your shoulder
  • Using an arm to break a fall
  • Lifting heavy weights

What Are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear?

  • Pain in the shoulder and arm, which varies depending on how serious the tear is
  • Weakness and tenderness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty moving the shoulder, especially when trying to lift your arm above your head
  • Snapping or crackling sounds when moving the shoulder
  • Inability to sleep on the shoulder
  • X-ray of the shoulder with some special views
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • Arthrogram, a special type of X-ray or MRI done after a dye is injected into joint; this will allow your doctor to see more detail.
  • Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a tiny camera is inserted into the shoulder joint to get a look at the rotator cuff Arthroscopy is usually not done unless it is likely that you will need a surgical repair based on the other non-surgical tests.

What’s the Treatment for a Rotator Cuff Tear?

  • Rest the joint as much as possible. Avoid any movement or activity that hurts. You may need a sling.
  • Ice your shoulder two to three times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Perform range-of-motion exercises, if your doctor recommends them.
  • Consider physical therapy to strengthen the joint.
  • Use anti-inflammatory painkillers, or NSAIDS, like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.

When Will I Feel Better After a Rotator Cuff Tear?

  • You feel no pain in your shoulder.
  • Your shoulder feels as strong as the uninjured one.
  • You have almost normal range of motion.
  • You can sleep on the shoulder.
  • You can function as well as before the injury.
  • If you start using your shoulder before it’s healed, you could cause permanent damage.

How Can I Prevent Rotator Cuff Tears?


OrthoWashington in Kirkland, WA is a premiere orthopedic practice and surgery center with surgeons and doctors serving patients in the greater Bellevue and Seattle areas.

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a dba of Washington Sports Medicine Associates
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