Shoulder Muscle Tear: 5 Common Signs & Symptoms

Are you experiencing shoulder pain that just won’t go away? It could be a sign of a shoulder muscle tear. In this blog, we will explore the common signs and symptoms of a shoulder muscle tear, as well as what causes rotator cuff pain. We’ll also discuss the different treatment options available, including both nonsurgical and surgical approaches. Whether you’re dealing with inflammation, or tendinitis, or simply want to know when to see a healthcare provider, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ll provide some at-home function tests that can help you diagnose your condition. Don’t let shoulder pain hold you back any longer – let’s dive in and get you on the path to recovery!


Treating a torn shoulder muscle involves various approaches. It is crucial to rest and refrain from activities that may further aggravate the injury. Ice therapy can effectively reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. physiotherapy exercises play a pivotal role in strengthening the shoulder muscles and enhancing the range of motion. Pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs can provide temporary relief. In more severe instances, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn muscle or tendon.

Nonsurgical Treatment

When it comes to addressing a torn shoulder muscle, nonsurgical treatment options are often the first line of defense. Rest and immobilization help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. physiotherapy exercises play a crucial role in improving the range of motion and strengthening the surrounding muscles. To further manage pain and swelling, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed. In certain cases, corticosteroid injections are recommended to target inflammation in the shoulder joint.

Surgical Treatment

For severe shoulder muscle tears that do not respond to conservative treatments, surgical treatment may be necessary. The main objective of surgery is to repair the torn muscle and restore normal shoulder function and strength. The specific surgical technique used will vary depending on the location and severity of the tear. Following surgery, a period of immobilization and rehabilitation is required for proper healing. It is worth noting that surgery is usually considered a last resort, only recommended after non-surgical treatments have failed.

Signs of a Torn Shoulder Muscle

Several signs and symptoms can help identify a torn shoulder muscle. These include pain, swelling, and bruising in the affected area, along with a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. Weakness in the arm or difficulty lifting objects are also indicators of a tear. Some individuals may experience a popping or snapping sensation at the time of injury. Treatment for a torn shoulder muscle typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as physiotherapy exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear and restore normal shoulder function.


In cases of a torn shoulder muscle, inflammation often occurs, resulting in pain, swelling, and redness in the affected area. To reduce inflammation, it is recommended to apply ice packs and use anti-inflammatory medications. Resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that aggravate inflammation is vital for the healing process. In more severe instances, corticosteroid injections may be suggested to alleviate both inflammation and pain. It is important to address inflammation alongside other treatment options to promote recovery.


Stretching exercises are an integral part of the treatment for a torn shoulder muscle. Incorporating these exercises can significantly improve flexibility and range of motion in the affected shoulder. When dealing with a torn rotator cuff, it is crucial to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or physical therapist who can recommend suitable stretching exercises for your specific injury. Some commonly recommended stretching exercises for a torn shoulder muscle include pendulum exercises, cross-body stretches, and wall stretches. Regularly performing these stretches, with guidance, can aid in preventing further injury and accelerating the healing process in the shoulder muscles.


Tendinitis, a common treatment option for shoulder muscle tears, involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to reduce inflammation and pain. physiotherapy exercises, such as pendulum exercises, cross-body stretches, and wall stretches, may be recommended to improve strength, range of motion, and flexibility in the shoulder muscles. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen, may be prescribed to help manage pain and reduce inflammation. In severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery, such as rotator cuff surgery, may be necessary to repair the torn muscle fibers and restore shoulder function. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider or sports medicine specialist to determine the best treatment options for a torn shoulder muscle.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you notice any signs of a torn shoulder muscle, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. Intense pain or discomfort in the shoulder area, limited range of motion, swelling, bruising, weakness, or a popping sensation could indicate a rotator cuff tear or other shoulder-related problems. By seeing a healthcare provider, you can receive an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment options for your condition.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Pain?

Rotator cuff pain can stem from overuse or repetitive movements, like throwing or lifting. Traumatic injuries, age-related tendon degeneration, poor posture, and incorrect lifting techniques can also contribute to this discomfort.

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Pain

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Pain involves observing various signs and symptoms such as pain, weakness, limited range of motion, clicking or popping sounds, and swelling/tenderness in the shoulder area. Seeking medical attention is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and to explore treatment options. Additional diagnostic methods like MRI, X-ray, and ultrasound may also be used to assess the condition.

At-Home Function Tests

At-home function tests can help identify potential signs of a torn shoulder muscle. These tests assess the strength and range of motion of the shoulder, aiding in the identification of rotator cuff tears. The “empty can” test involves raising the arms to a 90-degree angle with the thumbs pointing downward and resisting pressure applied by someone else. Similarly, the “full can” test has the thumbs pointing upward. Another test is the “lift-off” test, where the back of the hand is placed against the lower back and an attempt is made to lift it away. Experiencing pain or difficulty performing these tests may indicate a potential rotator cuff tear. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment options.


In conclusion, a torn shoulder muscle can cause significant pain and impact your daily activities. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms, such as inflammation, stretching difficulties, and tendinitis, in order to seek appropriate treatment. Depending on the severity of the tear, both nonsurgical and surgical options are available. If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder pain or have difficulty performing certain movements, it’s recommended to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. They can conduct at-home function tests and other diagnostic procedures to determine the cause of your rotator cuff pain. Don’t let shoulder muscle tears limit your quality of life – consult with a medical professional today.