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Can Rotator Cuff Injuries heal by itself?

Can Rotator Cuff Injuries heal by itself?

Can Rotator Cuff Injuries Heal by itself?

A common question I hear from my patients is – Can my rotator cuff tear be treated without surgery? “As I don’t want to go for surgeries, please help me”, it’s a simple question with a difficult answer.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can be managed non-surgically with a course of anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen etc), cortisone injections and proper physical therapy; however, this approach will sometimes not solve the problem. If you are suffering from tendonitis or a partial rotator cuff tear and your goal is pain relief, a non-surgical approach may work for you.

However, if you are active – meaning you play sports, do gym routine or exercise daily or use your shoulder regularly for your work and/or hobbies, then surgery is recommended. There is no evidence showing that rotator cuff tears completely heal on their own.

Rotator cuff is critical to your overall shoulder function. However, it is important to note that there are evidence suggesting negative long-term effects associated with rotator cuff injuries, including muscle scaring, muscle shrinkage/atrophy and increased tendon stiffness. Unfortunately, these negative effects are irreversible and can lead to permanent loss of shoulder function. So, the goals of rotator cuff treatment are simple:

  • Alleviate pain
  • Maximize function
  • Intervene before irreversible changes occur

Early surgical intervention is key, especially if you have a full rotator cuff tear, as the smaller the tear, the easier to repair, which will lead to better outcomes.

Whether you undergo rotator cuff surgery or decide not to go for surgical treatment, proper Physiotherapy plays a key role in ensuring successful recovery.

Dr Sumit Gupta PT

Bangalore Shoulder and Sports Medicine Institute.

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