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The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder and allow for its range of motion. A rotator cuff tear happens when one or more of these muscles or tendons become injured. According to Jim Johnson, author of "Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff," a torn rotator cuff is one of the most common injuries associated with the shoulder. There are certain tests, best performed with your physician, which will give indications you have a rotator cuff tear.
Perform the drop arm test. According to WebMD, the drop arm test is one of the easiest methods of determining if you have a torn rotator cuff. To perform the drop arm test, hold your arm out to the side at a 90-degree angle with your thumb pointing down. Lower your arm slowly towards the ground. As the name implies, if your arm drops suddenly, you likely have a rotator cuff tear.
Execute the horizontal arm pressure test. Begin by holding your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground with your palms facing up. Ask your assistant to press down on your arms lightly in an attempt to move them toward the floor. According to Mark Frankle, author of "Rotator Cuff Deficiency of the Shoulder," if you cannot resist the pressure and your arms fall, you likely have a torn rotator cuff.
Perform the touchdown test. Begin by raising your arms straight up over your head. Have your assistant lightly press them forward. If you are unable to keep your arms in the air, you might have a torn rotator cuff.
Execute the side pressure test. Begin by holding your arms straight out, parallel to the ground, thumbs pointing down. Ask your assistant to apply light pressure and attempt to move your arms downward. If it is difficult to resist the pressure, you might have a rotator cuff tear.
These tests only provide indications of a torn rotator cuff. For a definitive answer and proper treatment, see your physician.