How are Rotator Cuff Tears Diagnosed?

Author: Frederick A. Matsen III, M.D.

It is important to recognize that many tears of the rotator cuff are asymptomatic, that is the individual with a cuff tear is unaware that there is a problem with the shoulder.

Shoulders with rotator cuff tears may have symptoms, including pain, weakness, crepitance (clicking and popping on movement), stiffness or instability.

The presence of a rotator cuff can often be identified by a good history and a physical examination. Some of the tests are reviewed here.

Pseudoparalysis refers to the inability to raise the arm actively above 90 degrees in the presence of normal passive motion.

The diagnosis can be confirmed by imaging tests, but the cost of imaging of the rotator cuff can be substantial.

Here is more information on cuff tears and their diagnosis.