8 October 2018,

chronic rotator cuff tear

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons located in the shoulder. This important structure connects the arm bone to the shoulder blade and helps the joint move without coming out of place. A torn rotator cuff can cause pain, weakness, trouble lifting objects and a clicking/popping sensation in the shoulder. When the tear occurs suddenly, it is referred to as acute. When it develops slowly over time, however, it is known as a chronic rotator cuff tear.

Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear

A chronic rotator cuff tear is characterized by the gradual wearing down and eventual tearing of the tendons in the rotator cuff. In many cases, this process is driven by repetitive overhead activity. Consequently, this progressive type of rotator cuff tear is commonly experienced by baseball pitchers, tennis players, swimmers, weight lifters, carpenters and painters.

Previous acute injury can also affect the anatomy and/or function of the rotator cuff. This in turn can contribute to the development of a chronic rotator cuff tear. Many patients who suffer from a chronic rotator cuff tear have experienced shoulder impingement syndrome – a condition which involves rotator cuff tendon irritation – in the past.

As is typically the case with an acute rotator cuff tear, conservative treatments are generally recommended first for a chronic rotator cuff tear. These may include:

  • – Rest
  • – Anti-inflammatory medications
  • – Physical therapy
  • – Range-of-motion exercises
  • – Steroid injections


Some patients may continue to experience pain and decreased shoulder function after trying these first-line treatments. In these cases, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgical rotator cuff repair. The most appropriate type of surgery – arthroscopic, open or mini-open – will depend on the individual’s specific injury as well as factors such as age and activity level.

Discuss Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear Treatments with Dr. Soffer

If you are experiencing symptoms of a chronic rotator cuff tear, don’t keep suffering – explore your treatment options with a skilled orthopedic surgeon such as Dr. Stephen Soffer. With years of experience in accurately diagnosing and compassionately caring for patients with rotator cuff tears, Dr. Soffer will call on his expertise to help guide you to the right course of treatment. Whether that’s non-surgical or surgical chronic rotator cuff tear management, you can trust that Dr. Soffer will offer you the most advanced treatment methods available.

To learn more about Dr. Soffer or to set up an appointment, call our office at 610-375-4949. We look forward to helping you get rid of your shoulder pain and discomfort so that you can get back to living your life.

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