Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment

A Rotator Cuff Tear can cause pain and reduced mobility in the shoulder.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, our treatment of a shoulder rotator cuff tear aims to:

What is a rotator cuff tear?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles which join together as tendons to cover the humeral head (top of the upper arm bone). The rotator cuff forms an attachment between the humerus and the shoulder blade, and is responsible for lifting and rotating arm movements, as well as centralising the humeral head in the socket joint.  A lubricating sac called the bursa facilitates free and smooth movement of the tendons – damage to the rotator cuff can also cause inflammation of the bursa.

When one or more of the rotator cuff tendons are torn, the humerus is no longer properly or fully attached to the tendons. There are three types of rotator cuff tears:

  • Partial tear – also referred to as an incomplete tear, where the tendon is damaged but the attachment is not completely severed.
  • Full-thickness tear – also referred to as a complete tear, where the tear is the full thickness of the tendon often forming a hole within the tendon.
  • Complete Rupture – where the tendon is no longer attached.
Question mark

What are the causes?

The exact cause and severity of a rotator cuff tear can vary, however there are usually two main contributing factors. These include:

  • Shoulder injuries (acute) – trauma or force to the shoulder can tear the tendons
  • Degeneration – general wearing down of the tendons over time (tendinopathy) can increase likelihoods of tearing (more common in dominant arm)
    • e.g. repetitive/strenuous movement, reduced blood supply to tendon, development of bone spurs on humerus, etc.

Those over 40 years of age, athletes/sports people/younger individuals engaging in risk-taking behaviours are at a higher risk of injuring the rotator cuff.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain in the shoulder – dull ache which worsens with movement
  • Stiffness/inability to move the arm or shoulder
  • ‘Cracking’ sensation when moving the arm
  • Tenderness in the upper arm and shoulder
  • Reduced range of movement
    • Difficulty reaching up over the head or behind the back (lifting/rotating movements)
  • Reduced strength/muscle weakness
  • Slipping out of joint
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Sleeping interrupted by pain
Reducing Muscle Tension

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tears

If you suspect you have a rotator cuff tear, it is important to see a medical professional. You will likely be referred for imaging to determine the type and severity of the condition.


Physical therapy is highly beneficial in reducing associated symptoms. At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we tailor a unique treatment plan to aid in your recovery through:

  • Stretching, strengthening and/or conditioning exercises
  • Restoring range of movement
  • Postural improvement
  • Soft tissue mobilisations (massage)
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Dry needling
  • Taping
  • A unique home exercise program
  • Graded Exposure to load program

If the pain and reduced movement is severe, driving and strenuous activity should be avoided. Your physiotherapist may also advise heat or ice application, rest and if necessary, pain medication. Additionally, they might recommend for you to use neck support or a suitable pillow.

How to book an appointment?

If you have a rotator cuff injury, or you’re looking for a ‘physiotherapist near me’, our physios at Vitalis Physiotherapy can assess your condition to tailor a unique rehabilitation plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery.

All you need to do is just give us a call on 0410 559 856 and request an initial appointment. Please let our friendly reception staff know the background and severity of your condition.

You can visit our FAQs for more information about appointments at Vitalis Physiotherapy.


Need Help?

Are you in pain caused by a rotator cuff tear? Contact Vitalis Physiotherapy now to book in your treatment.

Call our friendly team on 0410 559 856. We’d love to help.

Contact us for more information on treatment

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Sinnamon Park Village

3/58 Oldfield Road, Sinnamon Park Qld 4073


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