You were going for that final swing on the tennis court when all of a sudden you felt something tear in your shoulder. You may have even heard a popping noise. This was followed immediately by pain and weakness in your shoulder. You have a rotator cuff tear. Now what?

What is a Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a complex system of muscles and tendons that wrap around your upper arm bone or humerus and keep your shoulder stable while allowing it to move. The problem comes when a tendon is torn. In some cases, even a bad injury can heal with rest, or it can be treated conservatively. If the injury is severe, you may need to have surgery.

Conservative Treatment

If the rotator cuff tear is not severe, our doctor may tell you to apply the RICE procedure. This is rest the shoulder, ice it, compress it and elevate it if possible. However, it is important not to immobilize your shoulder because the shoulder can freeze up. The doctor may also administer a course of injections to your shoulder to help you recover and refer you to a therapist to help strengthen your shoulder muscles and increase their range of motion.

Some exercises that are recommended for people with rotator cuff tears include the scapular clock, the scapular circle and the scapular cross. Each of these exercises is meant to restore your control over your shoulder blade.

A Closer Look at Surgery

If conservative methods don’t heal your rotator cuff tear, you will need surgery. Surgery can be open or arthroscopic, depending on the extent of your injury. These surgeries are meant to reattach your tendon to the bone it serves.

Though the surgery is over, there is a recovery period. Our doctor will likely recommend a physical therapist, who will gently help you strengthen your shoulder through both passive and active motion exercises. Full recovery can take multiple months.

Call Us If Your Have a Rotator Cuff Tear

If you feel that you may have a rotator cuff tear, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment at Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates. The sooner you get help, the better. We have offices located in Plymouth, Sandwich and Duxbury. Contact us today to book a consultation and get started!