A rotator cuff tear is a condition that often occurs in middle-aged people who play sports or do heavy labor. If not treated promptly, the patient may suffer damage or even break the shoulder joint.

In addition, pickleball is a sport that uses a lot of force on the shoulders. So, can you play pickleball with a rotator cuff injury? This article will help you answer that question.

What Is A Rotator Cuff Injury?

What Is A Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff injury

The structure of the rotator cuff muscle is a group of tendons in the shoulder joint, including the subscapularis, suprascapular, infraspinatus, and teres minor. They stabilize the shoulder joint and support the humeral head to rotate around the glenoid easily.

A rotator cuff tear is a phenomenon in which the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder joint are partially or completely torn (ruptured). This is a common pathology in the shoulder joint. Like a machine running for too long, this situation leads to a problem where the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder area will gradually wear out at this stage. 

At that time, the rotator cuff will be torn. Injuries can occur in any part of the rotator cuff; particularly, the most common area for tears is the supraspinatus muscle.

What Are 2 Warning Signs Of A Rotator Cuff Tear?

Shoulder Pain

This is the prominent symptom of a rotator cuff tear, specifically:

  • Pain on the external shoulder joint spreads down the arm but not over the elbow; pain spreads to the neck and often hurts at night, causing the patient to lose sleep.
  • The pain prevents the patient from lying on the affected shoulder.
  • The greater the level of shoulder pain, the more likely the injury is severe.
  • Repetitive movements, heavy lifting, and raising your arms above your head will worsen the pain.
  • Feel the crunching sound under the acromion when moving the humeral head.
  • The shoulder and arm joints cannot function within normal limits. Occasionally, some patients feel that the shoulder joint area becomes weaker, making it difficult to perform daily activities.

Other Warning Signs

Some other signs that often accompany the pain of a shoulder tendon tear include:

  • Shoulder stiffness: The pain is severe and prolonged; the patient may have difficulty moving the shoulder, and the shoulder joint will become stiff.
  • Arm weakness: When the rotator cuff tear lasts for a long time, the patient has difficulty performing movements such as dressing, combing hair, and reaching behind the head.
  • You can hear the shoulder joint cracking when moving or gradual atrophy of the muscles around the shoulder joint.

Causes Of Rotator Cuff Injury

There are many causes of rotator cuff tears. However, it is most commonly caused by injury or tendon degeneration.


Rotator cuff injury is common in sports injuries, especially sports that require repeated movements of shoulder abduction and raising arms above the head, such as tennis, badminton, baseball, basketball, swimming, etc. In addition, injuries can occur due to work accidents, traffic accidents, falls with arms outstretched, etc.

Tendon Degeneration

Rotator cuff tears due to tendon degeneration are common in middle-aged and older people. That’s because the older you get, the more the tendons in the rotator cuff muscles wear out over time. Typically, this tear will appear on the dominant arm because of the increased frequency of activity.

A Torn Rotator Cuff To Heal Without Surgery – How Long Does It Take?

Shoulder muscle tears cannot be repaired independently and require medical intervention. Depending on the level of damage, the doctor will have an appropriate treatment regimen. Depending on each method, recovery time will also vary.

The fastest method today is still surgery for cases with severe damage. However, this method also has many risks, so patients often choose to be treated with medication or physical therapy exercises.

Use Medicine

When the muscle tear in the rotator cuff is still mild, the patient is often prescribed treatment with pain-relieving and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Note that do not arbitrarily change the medicine’s time of use or dosage without consulting your doctor. The patient can recover and return to normal activities after a few months with proper medication and exercise.

Physical Therapy Exercises

Methods include cold compresses and changes in activity habits. Physical therapy focuses on restoring the shoulder joint range of motion and cortisone injections to relieve pain and support physical therapy.

Normally, this method will take about 3 to 6 months to recover. You should also regularly apply these exercises when signs of shoulder pain return.

Can You Play Pickleball With A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Can You Play Pickleball With A Rotator Cuff Injury
Can You Play Pickleball With A Rotator Cuff Injury

You can play pickleball after recovering your shoulder joints. Usually, after about 3 to 6 months, when you fully recover, you can continue playing this sport. However, you must also remember to warm up carefully before playing and practice at a moderate level to avoid more serious injuries.

To have good health, patients should follow some of the following advice:

  • Sleep upright, do not put pressure on the painful shoulder when sleeping, and do not sleep with your arm hanging up if the pain is severe.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads that impact the shoulder muscles.
  • Warm up your shoulder joints thoroughly before playing sports.
  • Do not repeat too many movements of raising your arms above your head.
  • Do not change the shoulder position suddenly.
  • Perform exercises to increase strength and flexibility in the shoulder muscles.
  • See a doctor immediately if there are signs of shoulder injury.

With pickleball, you can also choose padded rackets to help reduce the risk of shoulder injury during practice.

Best Pickleball Paddle For Rotator Cuff

If you’re still wondering how to choose the best racket to play pickleball, here are some suggestions for you.

Pickleball Sinsham

Pickleball Shinsham
Pickleball Shinsham

The first option you can consider is Pickleball Sinsham. Graphite glass fiber provides a sturdy racket surface, long-lasting durability, and perfect accuracy, and is surprisingly lightweight. The PickleBall racket can help control the ball accurately to achieve precision and beautiful pop.

The interior of the graphite pickleball racket is designed as a honeycomb structure with excellent durability and hardness, giving players power. Additionally, it provides more precise ball control and swing power. Pickleball will help you win every challenge.

Another special feature is that each PickleBall racket has a specially designed handle that minimizes slipping while maximizing balance. The hold of the racket surface has perforated padding, sweat absorption, and a soft grip to help you play for a long time without getting tired.

Pickleball Head Gravity Tour

The Pickleball Head Gravity Tour combines HEAD’s latest technologies in a lighter-weight racquet and a foam spin blade for better control. In addition, the racket combines a soft, comfortable handle and a graphite surface for increased power. Gravity Tour provides more power while maintaining excellent control in every shot.


What Activities Can I Do With Rotator Cuff Injury? 

When suffering rotator cuff injury, the patient can apply some of the following measures:

  • Rest: Most shoulder injuries when playing sports are due to overtraining. You need to reduce the intensity of your exercise and give yourself a reasonable amount of rest time. The balance between training and rest needs to be done regularly, not just during the period of pain.
  • Apply cold compresses: Cold compresses help prevent or reduce swelling while reducing muscle spasms and relieving pain. Accordingly, you should apply cold compresses to the injured shoulder every 15 – 20 minutes. In addition, each application should be spaced 2 – 3 hours apart.
  • Use pain relievers: Medicines such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen help reduce pain and swelling. In addition, steroid injections (corticoids) into the shoulder joint are also very popular for more severe cases or quick pain relief.

However, you should immediately contact your doctor for timely diagnosis and treatment in case of severe injury or extreme pain.

Is It Better To Rest Or Exercise A Torn Rotator Cuff? 

Of course, rest is the best medicine to help you treat rotator cuff injury. Let your shoulder rest, relax, and return to daily activities or sports when symptoms improve and the wound heals.

What Sport Has The Most Rotator Cuff Injuries? 

Badminton is a sport that requires continuous movement of the arms, wrists, and shoulders. Therefore, shoulder pain is one of the common sports injuries in this sport. Surveys at badminton championships show that more than half of professional athletes participating in competitions encounter shoulder injuries and shoulder pain.

In addition, tennis is also a sport that easily causes injury if you do not know how to practice properly. Continuous shoulder movement while playing tennis will naturally wear down the rotator cuff. Therefore, this can be considered a chronic injury after a long period of playing sports, or it can also be an acute injury caused by sudden pressure.


This article has provided information to answer the question: can you play pickleball with a rotator cuff injury? Hopefully, with the information in the article, you will have more knowledge about rotator cuff tears to prevent and treat them effectively. 

After the treatment, you can continue playing sports, but you should pay attention to playing technique and moderate exercise intensity.

>>See more: Can You Play Pickleball After Ankle Replacement?