What’s The Difference Between A Rotator Cuff Tear And Tendinitis?

rotator cuff versus tendinitis

The Rotator Cuff is a common location for injury, especially for those who play sports often. Rotator Cuff muscles and tendons support the shoulder joint, which is relatively unstable and easily damaged from overuse.

Athletes will most often come to NY Bone and Joint Specialists with either Rotator Cuff Tendinitis or a tear in their Rotator Cuff. Though the two conditions affect the same area, there are important differences between the two.

Rotator Cuff tendinitis is an irritation of the tendons in your shoulder that will result from doing the same motions repetitively. This is why pitchers, weight lifters, or even moms who pick up their children often will visit NY Bone and Joint for tendinitis treatment. If you have Rotator Cuff tendinitis, you will most likely be experiencing pain at the tip of your shoulder and throughout your upper arm. You’ll aggravate the pain by doing simple every day motions, like lifting your shoulder to put a shirt on, pulling a door open, or even reaching for your coffee.

A Rotator Cuff tear usually occurs more suddenly. It can be the result of rotator cuff tendinitis that has been left untreated for too long or of direct trauma to the shoulder. The tendons of the rotator cuff are actually pulled and torn in this case, rather than irritated. The interesting thing about this condition is that your pain level may not match the severity of the condition. While you will almost always experience weakness in the shoulder with a sizeable tear, a small tear can cause severe pain, while a larger and more serious tear may not cause you any painful symptoms. Because of the unpredictability of Rotator Cuff tears, it’s important to see Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, MD as soon as you notice any abnormalities.

Neither condition will heal itself; they will be chronic sources of pain if left untreated by a specialist like Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, MD. Luckily, Rotator cuff tendinitis can almost always be treated with conservative methods like physical therapy and injection therapy. Some patients find that acupuncture will also relieve tendinitis pain in conjunction with a sports rehabilitation program.

Rotator Cuff tears may also be treated with physical rehabilitation if they’re minor. Severe tears or ruptures, usually seen after a serious accident, may need surgery. Fortunately, Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, MD specializes in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder which is a minimally invasive operation that reduces recovery time drastically.

Dr. Leon Popovitz and Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, along with their team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best-rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. This, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, leads to athletes of all levels returning to their top physical potential. Contact us today to schedule a consult!

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