Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears are injuries to the tendons that surround the shoulder joint.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears may develop because of an acute injury but are most often caused by age-related degeneration or chronic impingement (rotator cuff tendons being pulled and squeezed under the coracoacromial arch). Cuff tears can be diagnosed clinically, but an MRI may be used to determine the extent of the tear and further management. Partial thickness tears are initially treated with conservative management including physical therapy, NSAIDs and activity modification. Physical therapy can often strengthen the surrounding muscles and alleviate or eliminate the pain. If the patient fails with conservative management or has a full thickness tear that is causing significant pain and disability, the patient may be a candidate for arthroscopic repair of the rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear
Rotator Cuff Tear

Frequently Asked Questions

Most shoulder pain can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Any primary doctor or general orthopedist can prescribe these simple solutions, but a trained shoulder specialist won’t just treat your pain — they will diagnose and treat your specific problem

At Modern Orthopaedics, our trained shoulder specialists will ask the right questions, perform specific examinations and order imaging when appropriate. They will be able to diagnose your problem and treat you whether your problem is simple or complex. Although you may not feel like your shoulder issue is “bad enough” to see a specialist, it is advantageous to have the opinion of an expert in the field when it comes to your health.

If you have been diagnosed with a “rotator cuff tear,” that can mean many different things depending on the severity, location, chronicity and dysfunction it is causing. Many times, a small or partial tear can be found on an MRI, but a patient may not even have symptoms. We treat the patient and not the MRI findings. That being said, MRIs can be very helpful in diagnosing a tear, and imaging gives us the ability to visualize the location and extent of the tear. With that information, we can come up with the best treatment plan. Thankfully, most people who have a rotator cuff tear on an MRI do not need surgery, but many people do. We are here to help, whether you just need a few sessions of therapy or you need surgical intervention.

Following an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, we tell patients that it will take about six months until they are returning to most activities and about one year until they are feeling back to normal. The first six weeks after surgery, you will be resting the shoulder in a sling with no active motion while the rotator cuff heals. After six weeks, you will begin physical therapy that will be prescribed by your doctor as part of your recovery. Exercises will begin gradually, and you will slowly progress from small range of motion exercises to eventual strengthening exercises by three months after surgery. Although the recovery is lengthy, it is crucial to comply with all restrictions to ensure proper healing.

Personalized care

As our patient, you will have an in-depth consultation with one of our doctors. We will create an individualized treatment plan together, tailored to your problem and lifestyle. Our doctors prefer non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy and/or injections. If your problem ultimately does require surgery, our doctors prefer the least invasive surgical techniques possible. Our goals are the same as yours: to get you back to living your best life, pain free. 

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