​I have a rotator cuff tear. Now what?

Apr 12, 2021

The rotator cuff is a bundle of tendons that surround the shoulder blade and attach to the shoulder. It is comprised of 4 tendons: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles stabilize the shoulder joint, rotate the shoulder and assist in elevating the arm.

Common symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:

  • Front or lateral shoulder pain
  • Diffuse upper trapezius or thoracic pain
  • Pain with raising arm to the side.
  • Pain with lifting
  • Pain with reaching behind your back
  • Weakness with raising arm

Rotator cuff tears can be caused by an injury or can be degenerative in nature.

A common misconception is that when a tear in the rotator cuff is discovered surgery is inevitable. A more recent study has shown that up to 80% of patients with a full-thickness tear were able to resume function and reported decreased pain after participating in physical therapy rather than surgery. A partial tear does not need to reconnect to the bone via surgery in order to restore range of motion or function.

Photo: Ryutaro Tsukata via Pexels

The goal of physical therapy is to retrain your muscles and joint mechanics to work without pain. Also, to decrease likelihood of further damage. Physical therapy will involve more than just shoulder exercises. We will work to restore efficient movement patterns throughout the body and create stability around the shoulder to address the cause, not just the problem.

What if I still have pain? Enter Regenerative Medicine. Stem cell injections have been very successful in the rehab of these partial rotator cuff tears. See Stem Cell Therapy for more information about these treatments.

Category: Physical Therapy