The Most Effective Rotator Cuff Tear Treatments

An untreated tear to the rotator cuff can cause pain, weakness, and discomfort around the shoulder. Like with most afflictions, knowledge is power when it comes to treatment options; which is why we have put together some helpful information outlining a few of your home remedies for symptoms relating to this common injury.

Treatment & Home Remedies

Rotator cuff tears often start as shoulder tendonitis that transition into a partial tear and then finally a complete tear. For short-term pain relief, try these easy remedies.

Rest

A rotator cuff injury can be caused by repetitive stress on the tendons of the rotator cuff. Shoulder inflammation and pain are typically experienced during movements that place excess stress on this area, such as overhead lifting or strenuous use of the arm. In many cases, resting the shoulder will reduce swelling and improve the range of motion in the area. Attempt to rest for several days or weeks before moving forward with normal activity to avoid further tendon damage. Aside from resting, there are several other ways you can prevent further tendon tears from occurring over time, such as avoiding activities that cause injuries in the first place and examining your current habits and equipment to find better alternatives.

Heat or Cold therapy

When it comes to elbow injuries and therapy, heat and cold therapies are two very different approaches. Cold therapy is a cold compress that works immediately because it numbs pain, reduces swelling and cuts off the pain signal. It’s best to apply a cold therapy pack during the first three days after an acute injury. Heat, on the other hand, increases blood flow by increasing blood vessels in an area. Using heat therapy with a herbal heating pad is extremely beneficial because it soothes soreness! The blood flow may increase swelling though, but you should wait until all initial swelling has subsided before using it so as to prevent further infliction of damage.

Medication

If you are suffering from shoulder pain there are over-the-counter medications that can help provide you with hope and a new sense of normality. Anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen and naproxen will kill off the swelling in shoulders and ease any pain that may be sitting right on your nerves. You’ll find the most benefit by combining them with the other treatments we listed above, so make sure you schedule yourself some physical activity and avoid getting stuck in front of the TV for too long!

It is important before trying anything new out to first get a recommendation for taking these meds from your doctor!

Injections

Steroid injections are one treatment option that may help you manage your pain level. These injections are done in the doctor’s office and have little to no downtime, and a lot of patients find relieving effects afterwards. However, this is not the only treatment option on offer, so talk to your doctor about your options and make sure you understand them before signing up!

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can help you strengthen your shoulder muscles and improve your overall function through stretching. Your physical therapist will perform a physical examination to determine the best movements for healing your injury. Once you’re better, they can modify the treatment plan to provide continued relief and make sure that there is no pain or re-injury to the injured area.

Surgeries for Torn Rotator Cuffs

Most people with rotator cuff injuries can get better on their own and do not need surgery. However, if you are still experiencing severe pain and weakness after 6 months to a year of doing conservative home treatments (like physical therapy ), then surgery will likely be helpful. Surgery is also used in patients who have a large tear, significant shoulder weakness, or loss of function. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon to decide what is best for your situation.

Arthroscopic

An arthroscopic shoulder surgery refers to a minor surgical procedure used on the shoulder that makes use of an arthroscope, which is basically a tiny camera that’s inserted into the joint. The surgeon will then perform any necessary repairs using small incisions and rather than sutures, stitches are used for closure. This is the assigned treatment for pain relief with shoulder impingement syndrome.

Mini-Open Repair

The mini-open repair uses an incision approximately 3cm to 5cm long. You can even appreciate the surgeon's work through an arthroscopy! The doctor does use arthroscopy, to perform some of these surgical repairs. When the arthroscopic portion is complete the surgeon will finish the repair through the mini-open incision. This allows him to see what he's doing and make sure it's just right and not curving inwards in a bad way or something like that.

Open Repair

Open repair surgery is a surgical procedure used to treat rotator cuff injuries. If the injury is large or complex in severity, these procedures are sometimes recommended by surgeons. They provide surgeons with a larger incision in which they can view and access the involved tissues more easily than during arthroscopic surgery. Because of this, an open repair will generally perform better than a closed one along with providing greater visualization of tissues. An open repair involves placing a suturing needle into injured tendons and attaching them back onto either the upper arm bone or their original spot on the bone (if it's completely torn).

Prevention

While no one can predict the future, there are certain steps that you can take to help prevent your rotator cuff from tearing. Here's how:

  • Stretch your shoulders to maintain flexibility
  • Take frequent breaks if you are actively working your shoulders
  • Stop activities that cause pain
  • Strengthen your shoulder muscles
  • Reduce the stress you put on your shoulders by minimizing heavy lifting

Effective Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment

Torn rotator cuffs occur commonly in people who do a lot of overhead activities or are involved in contact sports. The most typical home treatment for this condition is anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you're worried that your pain is still not improving, it's best to get evaluated by a professional healthcare provider to determine what other options might be available for you. These can include physical therapy, steroid injections, or surgical repair depending on the extent of the injury. If you've tried these first two treatment options with no relief, talk to your doctor about the next steps that might improve mobility and get you back out there enjoying all of the activities that you love so much!


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