There are a number of ways that you can get a rotator cuff tear. There are also a number of options available for addressing a rotator cuff tear. If a sufficient amount of rest and rehabilitation do not produce the desired results, then the patient may require a minimally-invasive treatment to help them accomplish the goal. Injections may also be recommended. In the vast majority of cases, surgery is not needed.
To manage most rotator cuff tears, a patient is going to need to cooperate with a doctor. They’re going to need to understand that it takes time for the rotator cuff to heal, and so the patient will need to show patience. The work is divided into different phases. The first phase of a non-surgical treatment is designed to protect the rotator cuff and to manage the pain. The second phase is designed to improve range of motion as well as increase the strength of the rotator cuff. Finally, the third phase is designed to help the patient return to engaging in sports-related or work-related activities.
Through most of the first phase, a patient is going to be given medication for pain control and be encouraged to rest. Pain control usually includes some form of anti-inflammatory medications as well as steroid injections to minimize the inflammation. It may be required for the patient to use a brace, a sling, or another apparatus to help keep their arm in place for a sufficient amount of time to allow for healing. That being said, doctors will need to be careful that they do not leave the patient immobilized for a long period of time. Prolonged immobilization can actually make a rotator cuff injury worse.
Depending on the extent of the tear, the patient may benefit from at-home therapy or may need to visit a physical therapist. The goal is to further minimize pain and increase range of motion. Once pain has decreased and range of motion has been increased, the goal becomes increasing strength. If these steps do not work, a doctor may recommend more invasive techniques with the goal of addressing a rotator cuff tear.