What is torn rotator cuff? Torn rotator cuff refers to damage to one of the four muscles that allow the arm to rotate at the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears can also affect the tendons that hold these muscles together. Generally, a torn rotator cuff is the result of repetitive use, but it can occur as a single traumatic injury. Rotator cuff tears are most common in older people who repeatedly perform activities with overhead motions, but they can occur in anyone. If you have a torn rotator cuff, you may experience muscle weakness, pain in the arm or shoulder, muscle wasting, or a crackling feeling when you move your shoulder. The pain may get worse with time. There are many treatments for rotator cuff tears, depending on the severity. In mild cases, the tear may repair itself over time, and rest, over-the-counter medication, and exercise may speed healing. Physical therapy, prescription medications, and steroids may be necessary in more serious cases, while severe cases of torn rotator cuff may require surgery. Surgery for torn rotator cuff ranges from smoothing of the tissues (debridement) to full tendon transfer (replacement of muscles or tendons). A combination of surgery and physical therapy often leads to greater recovery. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience a snapping sound or sensation in your arm, coupled with intense pain and an inability to rotate your arm, as this may indicate that your rotator cuff has torn. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for a torn rotator cuff and experience persistent or bothersome pain, or if your condition interferes with your daily life.