Shoulder cracking can be a symptom of a rotator cuff tear. A rotator cuff tear is a condition when the rotator cuff is torn or injured. The tear can be full thickness tear or a partial thickness tear. If the tendon is totally torn, we use the term full thickness rotator cuff tear. If the tendon is not totally torn, we use the term partial thickness tear.

Shoulder cracking as a symptom of a rotator cuff tear

shoulder cracking

The occurrence of a rotator cuff tear may happen suddenly or it can be a consequence of something else and gradually develop. You can suddenly get a rotator cuff tear if you fall or lift heavy objects. If it happens gradually, it can be a consequence of different kinds of reasons. You can get a rotator cuff tear if the rotator cuff degenerated due to old age, if the blood is poorly supplied to the rotator cuff, if you constantly lift things over your head or your job requires this, and if the space between the acromion and the humerus is narrowed.

Rotator cuff tear and shoulder cracking

Rotator cuff tear develops a lot of different symptoms. Pain in the shoulder is very common. You can feel the pain at night and it can even wake you up while sleeping. The pain is felt when you lift objects over the head and other lifting activities. Your motion is usually limited with a rotator cuff tear. The shoulder becomes weak and this is most common when you try to lift your arm. Cracking, grating or catching sounds are very common when you move the arm. You should get an MRI or x-ray done to rule out other problems with the bones or fractures. An ultrasound can be made to determine if the rotator cuff is torn.


Shoulder cracking is a symptom of a rotator cuff tear. That’s why you have to treat the rotator cuff tear and the cracking will stop immediately. Rotator cuff tear can be treated with a combination of treatments. Exercises are very important. You should star with simple stretching exercises and then continue with exercises for strengthening. Pain medications can help a lot. Also anti inflammatory medications can decrease the pain and in some cases a cortisone injection can improve the function of your shoulder. Putting ice over the shoulder can relieve the pain and swelling. This type of treatment is usually useful for partial thickness tear. However, if this conservative treatment doesn’t help and the symptoms are still present, a surgery has to be done. In cases of full thickness rotator cuff tear surgery is fully recommended. The rotator cuff may be repaired with an arthroscopic surgery or in some cases an open shoulder surgery is required. Surgery is effective in most of the cases and the symptoms will totally disappear. You will be able to live normally again without the extreme pain or swelling.