Rotator Cuff Tear


Low – high

12 wks

Frozen shoulder

What is a Rotator cuff tear?

There’s 2 main types. One is ‘acute’ which is more the injury type, you fell down the stairs after trying to do the can-can with high heels on (me). The other is more ‘chronic’ which is more the slow wearing of the muscle and tendon over time and weirdly – can be non painful (!). The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that control your ball-and-socket shoulder joint. They’re like a super clever dynamic stabilisation system. Like those little rockets on the side of a space station.

Why do Rotator cuff tears happen?

If it’s the acute type tear, it’s usually an injury. Falling onto your shoulder can do it, or landing onto an outstretched arm or slipping in the rain like a goose and using your shoulder as a cushion. The more long term type happens by a little bit of load happening over large amounts of time. It’s sometimes best not even to think of them as a ‘tear’ (despite what scans might tell you) and more like a ‘wear’. A little known fact is that once you get over the age of 60 pretty much every one has a rotator cuff tear. WOW!

What can you do about a Rotator cuff tear? Rotator cuff Physiotherapy in Newcastle.

1. No pain No gain does not work for this. Don’t try and force your shoulder to move – it’ll just make it worse. It needs gentle exercises to encourage movement and the muscles to start working again.
2. Tape it up. Often these shoulders feel better with some support – so give it some extra oomph by getting your physio to strap it up. Bonus is you’ll feel like an elite footy player.
3. Often anti-inflammatories can help. Talk to your GP and see if that might be an option for you. Especially helpful to get some sleep because often these injuries can make sleep ROUGH.
4. Avoid slings and braces if you can – they tend to encourage stiffness and your muscles to go south.
5. If you’re struggling to improve after 6 wks, you might need an MRI scan and possibly a sports doc to take a look. There are some extra options that they can bring if your shoulder is not responding to physio. Worst case scenario is that sometimes they need to be fixer-uppered with surgery.

How long will a Rotator cuff tear take?

Usually it will take 6-8 wks before they start to improve. The nasty ones might take a bit longer and be up to 3 months. If it needs surgery it may be longer depending on what type of operation you have.


If your shoulder is steadily getting more painful and stiffening up – its worth checking in with your physio and asking if you might have frozen shoulder (See guru article This needs to be addressed immediately as it can change the way your shoulder is managed.

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If pain persists, you may require the help of a professional physio. Contact Brightside Physio to make an appointment.


Brightside Physio
90 Elder St
Lambton (Newcastle)
NSW 2299

New location!
15 Lambton Rd
Broadmeadow (Newcastle)
NSW 2292



Find parking via De Vitre Street and walk down side alley to Elder Street entrance.



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Call us on (02) 4062 8862