Case Study- Supraspinatus Partial Tear

December 7, 2017 | By | Reply

– Dr. Ruchi Sanghvi

Mr. X, a 69-year-old young male, came to PhysioRehab with the following complaints:

  • Pain in left shoulder
  • Pain when lifting the arm
  • Pain increases with specific movements like reaching the back pocket
  • Difficulty in lifting any weight and driving
  • Pain when lying on the affected side
  • His pain was relieved with ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication and avoiding the painful movement

The shoulder pain started after he a sustained fall on the left hand in forward reach-out position 3 weeks ago. He consulted an orthopedic doctor for the same who advised him to take physiotherapy sessions.

He is retired from work but travels often to his native town. He leads an active lifestyle for which he needs to drive his car.

After a physical examination it was learnt:

  • Faulty Posture: Round shoulders, lax abdomen, stood with left arm guarded
  • Range of motion: Left shoulder movements were free, mid-range arc pain was present
  • Muscle strength: Testing demonstrated that his deltoid and rotator cuff muscles on the left were weak, left shoulder blade muscles were also weak

Radiological diagnosis:

MRI of the shoulder showed Supraspinatus partial tear with degeneration of acromioclavicular joint.

Physio Speak:

What is Supraspinatus Partial Tear?

  • The shoulder consists of a group of muscles known as rotator cuff, which stabilizes, controls, and moves the shoulder joint.
  • Supraspinatus is a part of the rotator cuff group.
  • It is one of the most commonly injured muscle, due to trauma or repetitive injury.
  • A partial tear means that some not all fibers of the Supraspinatus muscle are disrupted/torn.
  • Risk factors increase with age, history of trauma, overhead arm movement, repetitive activity.
  • Most cases of partial tear can be treated conservatively.
  • Rehab program has 3 stages spanning over 12 weeks


Post three months of regular physiotherapy and posture training, initially twice a week, gradually weaning to once a week, the patient was able to regain full functioning without pain. He could resume driving and other activities of daily living pain-free.

However, he was advised to not overload the left shoulder to avoid re-injury. An individualized, tailor-made exercise regime at PhysioRehab helped Mr. X to achieve a better quality of life.

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Category: Case Studies

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