1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How Common is a Rotator Cuff Tear?


Updated February 02, 2013

rotator cuff tear

A tear of the rotator cuff is an injury to the tendons of the shoulder muscles.

Image © Medical Mulitmedia Group
Question: How Common is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
A rotator cuff tear can be a cause of shoulder pain, but not every rotator cuff tear causes pain. In fact, rotator cuff tears are quite common in people with no symptoms at all. And especially as people get older, rotator cuff tears become more common.
Answer: Not every rotator cuff tear causes significant pain or disability. In fact, autopsy studies have shown rotator cuff tears in up to 70% of people over the age of 80 and 30% of people under the age of 70.

Clearly, not everyone with a rotator cuff tear complains of painful symptoms. However, in many individuals, a rotator cuff tear can cause significant disability, and prompt diagnosis and treatment can profoundly improve symptoms.


Yamaguchi K, et al. "The demographic and morphological features of rotator cuff disease. A comparison of asymptomatic and symptomatic shoulders." J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Aug;88(8):1699-704.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Orthopedics
  4. Shoulder & Elbow
  5. Shoulder Conditions
  6. Rotator Cuff
  7. How Common is a Rotator Cuff Tear

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.