A rotator cuff tear oftentimes presents with pain and weakness in the shoulder. A patient will present – it depends oftentimes on the age. Rotator cuff tears are very uncommon in youth and in patients 20-40, maybe even 50. Rotator cuff tears are much more common in the 50+ age group. Generally if a patient (20, for instance) comes into my office with shoulder pain and weakness, it’s pretty unlikely that it’s going to be a rotator cuff tear unless they fell out of a tree or were in a high speed motor vehicle accident or something of that nature. Now, if a 65 year old comes into my office and says, “you know, doc, I was putting something in the overhead bin on the airplane and all of a sudden I had a sharp pain in my shoulder. I haven’t been able to lift my shoulder over my head since then. What’s going on?” – that’s more likely to be a rotator cuff tear. Because the rotator cuff allows us to do exactly that – bring our arm up over our head. So oftentimes it will present with weakness and pain. If you’re having pain in your shoulder and you’re having difficulty lifting your shoulder up over your head, if you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, then I would suggest seeing an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation of your shoulder pain.
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