Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care exercises pain control warning signs Prevention Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Rotator Cuff Sprain Treatment

Initial treatment for a rotator cuff tear usually includes rest, cold compresses, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Additional treatment for a rotator cuff tear may include corticosteroid medication injections or surgery.

Treatment options for a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Rest:
    • Avoid activities that cause pain
    • Sleep with a pillow between the trunk and arm to decrease tension on the rotator cuff tendons.
    • Continued use of a shoulder sling can lead to frozen shoulder, a serious complication
  • Cold compresses for 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times per day
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain
  • Narcotic pain medication:
    • For moderate to severe pain
    • For short term use only
  • Corticosteroid injections for rotator cuff tear
  • Physical therapy for rotator cuff tear:
    • Passive range of motion shoulder exercises
    • Exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles, but only after pain has resolved
    • The goal is pain free complete range of motion in the shoulder
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Occupational therapy for rotator cuff tear
  • Surgery for rotator cuff tear:
    • Arthroscopic repair of rotator cuff
    • Mini-open repair of rotator cuff
    • Open surgical repair of rotator cuff

Rotator Cuff Sprain Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of rotator cuff tear.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Will I need surgery?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having a rotator cuff tear again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Rotator Cuff Sprain Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat rotator cuff tear:

Continue to Rotator Cuff Sprain Home Care

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Rotator Cuff Sprain References
  1. Baker CL, Whaley AL, Baker M. Arthroscopic rotator cuff tear repair. J Surg Orthop Adv. 2003 Winter;12(4):175-90. [15008280]
  2. Charousset C, Bellaiche L, Duranthon LD, Grimberg J. Accuracy of CT arthrography in the assessment of tears of the rotator cuff. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Jun;87(6):824-8. [15911667]
  3. Kim SH, Ha KI, Park JH, Kang JS, Oh SK, Oh I. Arthroscopic versus mini-open salvage repair of the rotator cuff tear: outcome analysis at 2 to 6 years' follow-up. Arthroscopy. 2003 Sep;19(7):746-54. [12966383]
  4. Laudicina L, D'Ambrosia R. Management of irreparable rotator cuff tears and glenohumeral arthritis. Orthopedics. 2005 Apr;28(4):382-8. [15887585]
  5. McCabe RA, Nicholas SJ, Montgomery KD, Finneran JJ, McHugh MP. The effect of rotator cuff tear size on shoulder strength and range of motion. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005 Mar;35(3):130-5. [15839306]
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