Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Conservative treatments — such as rest, ice and physical therapy — often are all that's needed to recover from a rotator cuff injury. If your injury is severe and involves a complete tear of the muscle or tendon, you might need surgical repair.

Medications

If conservative treatments haven't reduced your pain, your doctor might recommend a steroid injection into your shoulder joint, especially if the pain is interfering with your sleep, daily activities or exercise. While such shots are often helpful, they should be used judiciously as they can contribute to weakening of the tendon.

Therapy

Physical therapy exercises can help restore flexibility and strength to your shoulder after a rotator cuff injury.

Surgery

Surgical options may include:

  • Bone spur removal. If an overgrowth of bone is irritating your rotator cuff, this excess bone can be removed and the damaged portion of the tendon can be smoothed. This procedure is often performed using arthroscopy, where a fiber-optic camera and special tools are inserted through tiny incisions.
  • Tendon repair or replacement. Many times, a torn rotator cuff tendon can be repaired and reattached to the upper arm bone. If the torn tendon is too damaged to be reattached to the arm bone, surgeons may decide to use a nearby tendon as a replacement.
  • Shoulder replacement. Massive rotator cuff injuries associated with severe degenerative joint disease (arthritis) of the shoulder may require shoulder replacement surgery. To improve the artificial joint's stability, an innovative procedure (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) installs the ball part of the artificial joint onto the shoulder blade and the socket part onto the arm bone
Feb. 19, 2014

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