I've had rotator cuff tears in both shoulders (and have had both of them surgically repaired).
Seeing a specialist is critical in order to learn exactly what damage there is.Â Exams alone seldom reveal the true nature of the injury, usually an MRI of the shoulder is required.
Rotator cuff tears come in three varieties; partial thickness tear, full thickness tear and a complete tear.
A partial thickness tear is the least serious and most common.Â Rotator cuff tears don't heal on their own.Â If you have a partial tear rest will often make the injury manageable without surgery, but you most likely will be prone to periods of discomfort.
A full thickness tear will almost always require surgery.
A complete tear is the worst of the three; you'd know this because of a total inability to lift the arm up.
I have had both shoulders repaired (the left only a month and a half ago).Â After the first one, I was able to return to my prior level and suspect that I'll do the same after this one.
It's a long road back, but is worth the effort.
Good luck wtih it, hope this helps.