Early on, pain is mild and occurs with overhead activities and lifting your arm to the side. Activities include brushing your hair, reaching for objects on shelves, or playing an overhead sport.
Pain is more likely in the front of the shoulder and may travel to the side of the arm. The pain always stops before the elbow. If the pain goes down the arm to the elbow and hand, this may indicate a pinched nerve.
There may also be pain with lowering the shoulder from a raised position.
Over time, pain may be present at rest or at night, such as when lying on the affected shoulder. You may have weakness and loss of motion when raising the arm above your head. Your shoulder can feel stiff with lifting or movement. It may become more difficult to place the arm behind your back.
ROTATOR CUFF TEARS
The pain with a sudden tear after a fall or injury is usually intense. Right after the injury, you likely have weakness of the shoulder and arm. You may also feel a snapping sensation when trying to move the arm.
With a chronic tear, you often do not notice when it began. This is because symptoms of pain, weakness, and stiffness or loss of motion worsen slowly over time.
Most people with rotator cuff tendon tears have pain at night. Pain that is worse at night may wake the person. During the day, the pain is more tolerable, and usually only hurts with certain movements.
Over time, the symptoms become much worse, and are not relieved by medicines, rest, or exercise.