Rotator Cuff Tears – Treatment

Our Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeons have many years of experience treating shoulder injuries including rotator cuff tears, labral tears, bursitis, bone spurs, impingement, and arthritis.

While most injuries can successfully treated conservatively with therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication, some will require surgery to repair the damage.

The Orthopedic Center Surgeons offer a variety of arthroscopic, outpatient techniques that will successfully put you back in the action.  Get a consultation to find out which option is indicated in your particular situation.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering around the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate your arm.

When one or more of the rotator cuff tendons is torn, the tendon no longer fully attaches to the head of the humerus. Most tears occur in the supraspinatus tendon, but other parts of the rotator cuff may also be involved.

In many cases, torn tendons begin by fraying. As the damage progresses, the tendon can completely tear, sometimes with lifting a heavy object.

There are different types of tears.

  • Partial tear. This type of tear is also called an incomplete tear. It damages the tendon, but does not completely sever it.

  • Full-thickness tear. This type of tear is also called a complete tear. It separates all of the tendon from the bone. With a full-thickness tear, there is basically a hole in the tendon.

Symptoms of a Cuff Tear

The most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder

  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements

  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm

  • Crepitus or crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions


The majority of patients improve with nonsurgical treatment including:

Nonsurgical treatment options may include:

  • Rest. Specially limiting lifting and overhead activities. The PRICE therapy

  • Activity modification. Avoid activities that cause shoulder pain.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.

  • Strengthening exercises and physical therapy. 

  • Steroid injection. An injection of a local anesthetic and a cortisone preparation may be helpful.

Surgical Management.

Surgery as an option for a torn rotator cuff if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods.  If you are very active and use your arms for overhead work or sports, surgery may be an option. Other signs that surgery may be a good option for you include:

  • Your symptoms have lasted more than 6 monhts

  • You have a large tear and the quality of the surrounding tendon tissue is good

  • You have significant weakness and loss of function

​Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most often involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of humerus (upper arm bone). At The Orthopedic Center our surgeons are experienced with minimally invasive, arthroscopic techniques to repair your shoulder injury.