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

Torn Rotator Cuff Home Care

Home care for rotator cuff tear includes:

  • Apply cold compresses:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply cold compresses for 20 minutes, 5 times a day.
  • Apply warm compresses for stiffness:
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, 4 times a day
  • Rest the shoulder:
    • Use a shoulder sling as directed:
    • Long term immobilization in a sling can lead to frozen shoulder.
    • If you wear a shoulder sling for longer than two weeks make sure you perform shoulder range of motion exercises twice a day to avoid frozen shoulder.
    • Physical therapy will play a major role in avoiding frozen shoulder.
  • Perform shoulder stretching exercises twice a day.
  • Perform rotator cuff exercises.
    • Perform the exercises after the pain resolves.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Torn Rotator Cuff Exercises

Most people with rotator cuff tear can start shoulder range-of-motion exercises within a few days. This will help prevent stiffness and frozen shoulder.

Basic shoulder exercises include:

  • While standing next to a wall, walk up the wall with your fingers with your elbow straight.
  • Lean over and making circles with your forearm parallel to the ground while you are in the sling.
  • The exercises should be performed 2-3 times per day, but not to the point of pain.
  • Cold compresses to the shoulder before and after will help reduce pain and swelling.

Torn Rotator Cuff Pain Control

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with rotator cuff tear include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Torn Rotator Cuff Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have rotator cuff tear and any of the following:

Continue to Torn Rotator Cuff Prevention

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Torn Rotator Cuff 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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