What Are Treatment Options for a Torn Rotator Cuff?


Quick Answer

Treatment options for a torn rotator cuff either focus on physical therapy or surgery, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The choice depends on the severity and type of the injury to the tendon.

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Full Answer

When patients opt for nonsurgical treatment of their rotator cuffs, they begin a program of occupational or physical therapy, as stated by AHRQ. The job of the therapist is to provide a series of stretches and exercises designed to strengthen the muscles in the shoulder as the tendon heals. This process involves some discomfort, and many patients take over-the-counter pain medications to manage the symptoms. In some cases, patients take a steroid, either through an injection or in pill form. Many nonsurgical approaches have improved arm movement, weakness and pain.

If physical therapy fails to improve symptoms or if the injury is too severe for physical therapy to work, surgery is the next option, reports AHRQ. The most common surgery for a rotator cuff injury involves sewing the torn tendon or muscle edges back together or reconnecting the tendon to the ball on the humerus. Also, the doctor sometimes uses surgery to remove loose tendon or bone fragments lodged in the joint or to remove some bone under the shoulder blade to provide the tendon more room.

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