Rotator Cuff Injury and Treatment Options

The "Rotator Cuff" is the name given to a group of muscles that surround your shoulder joint, these muscles help you to lift and rotate your arm, and provide stability to your shoulder joint. The rotator cuff is composed of four muscles: subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus and infraspinatus. Just like any other muscle, if damage occurs to the rotator cuff, an individual will experience pain, weakness in that arm, and a loss of flexibility.

Other common injuries to the rotator cuff include rotator cuff tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons of any of the rotator cuff muscles), rotator cuff tendinosis (chronic tendon injuries), and/or rotator cuff tears. There are two different types of tears:

  • Partial Thickness Tear: also called an incomplete tear, the tendon is damaged or frayed, but still intact.
  • Full-Thickness Tear: also called a complete tear, the tendon has separated from the bone completely and can no longer operate properly Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Dysfunction.
  • Pain in the shoulder, shoulder blade or upper arm regions.
  • Pain at rest or at night, especially when lying on the affected arm.
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating the arm.
  • "Cracking" sensations when moving your arm or shoulder in certain directions.
  • A sudden "snapping" if the rotator cuff injury occurs as a result of a traumatic episode (fall, contact sports, etc).

What Causes a Rotator Cuff Injury?

A rotator cuff injury can be caused by an acute/traumatic episode, or can gradually occur over time. Acute tears are usually caused by a fall on an outstretched arm, car accidents, or lifting a heavy object. Acute tears can also occur in conjunction with other shoulder injuries such as a shoulder dislocation or broken collarbone.

Degenerative tears occur over time and are usually caused by prolonged or repeated movements with poor posture and/or poor alignment of the shoulders. Common examples include; repetitive reaching, throwing a ball (baseball players), weightlifting, use of computer keyboard/mouse in an improper way, gardening and completing household chores in an improper way.

As we age, it is known that our tendons receive less blood supply in most regions of the body. As the blood flow to the rotator cuff decreases, the odds of an injury occurring are greater.


People over the age of 40 are at an increased likelihood to sustain a rotator cuff injury. However; regular stretching and strengthening of these muscles, avoiding abnormal postures and avoiding repeated, prolonged movements of the shoulders will be the best course of action to prevent a rotator cuff injury. Certain occupations are at a greater risk for sustaining an injury, including:

  • People who do repetitive lifting.
  • People who frequently lift or use objects overhead; painters, electricians, carpenters, construction workers.
  • Athletes; tennis, baseball players, weightlifters.

How Can We Help You?

Our Physiotherapist will complete an assessment to determine which of the rotator cuff muscles are affected, and the mechanism of injury (for non-acute injuries). Physiotherapy treatment will help assist with pain, improve muscle flexibility and strength as needed. Your Physiotherapist will help get you back to your regular activities as quickly and efficiently as possible while giving you information on how to prevent this injury from occurring again!

Our physiotherapists are happy to work with your family physician or other health care professionals to deliver an integrated approach to your rehabilitation. Alternatively, we can offer chiropractic care if you prefer. 


"I recently hired their Physiotherapist for a sprain ankle. She came to visit me 3 times/week which made a huge difference as I couldn't walk very well. She was very professional and knowledgeable, with lots of patience. You can tell she is passionate and committed to help others. The clinic was also very helpful and responded to my emails in a prompt manner" - Elora Cali

"This is the first time I give a review. I cannot say enough about this clinic. They are really amazing. Friendly, great customer service and helped me with a condition I have for years. Feeling better by the day. Thank you so much!" - Josephine Lagarde

Why Pillars of Wellness?

At Pillars of Wellness, in Burlington, Ontario, we are proud to provide a truly integrated care approach that employs a variety of treatments to achieve a faster recovery. Our clinic offers various services such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, counselling, occupational therapy, yoga therapy, acupuncture, and holistic nutrition.

With multiple services and specialties in one place, you’ll get the best care possible — without having to look elsewhere. Pillars of Wellness is your one-stop-health solution, located right here in Burlington.

Last but not least, physiotherapy is typically covered under most extended health insurance plans. If you do not have coverage or have exceeded your coverage limits, you can consult with our Chiropractors. All of our Chiropractor and Physiotherapists have skills and techniques to treat and manage postural strain and associated symptoms.