How common is it?
Rotator cuff tear is a common injury (classified as a disease) that many affects almost 1 in 4 of us over 50 years old and 1 in 4 over 20 years old. So it is a very common disease. Despite this many people having tears, only 1 in 3 are symptomatic, this is similar to spinal injuries, in that the majority of people have some form of spinal disk damage but not all of them are painful or symptomatic. The sad part is that only 1/5 people with symptomatic shoulders seek help to get better. If you have pain I would urge you to seek professional help, even if the advice in this blog helps you to resolve your symptoms just to make sure it’s nothing more serious.
Are you affected?
There are some typical signs that can allow you test yourself for having a rotator cuff tear (RCT), Unless checked by a professional you may get some false positives. Meaning that just because you tick all the boxes for a typical RCT, doesn’t mean you have one. It could be a nerve problem, could be a bone injury, could be a fat pad problem, the list goes on.
Typically having difficulty with overhead activities like getting things down off a high shelf, drying your hair, even lifting your arm above your head can be painful and cause you to drop things. This is tested with the painful arc:
standing with your hands by your side, raise them up above your head.
A RCT of the supraspinatus will be aggravated by this test, causing pain at the top of your arm where the humerus meets the shoulder joint.