Physical therapy to improve flexibility and muscle strength in the shoulder is usually the first step in addressing rotator cuff injuries. Injections of corticosteroid medication can help reduce pain and swelling in people with severe and persistent injuries.
Surgery may be the best option for people with rotator cuff tears or people who have not had success with nonsurgical treatment. Mayo Clinic performs several types of surgery:
- Subacromial smoothing (decompression): Inflamed tissue and bone spurs are removed from the area around the rotator cuff. Mayo Clinic doctors perform this surgery using minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques on an outpatient basis.
- Rotator cuff repair: The torn tendon is reattached to the arm bone using either traditional surgery or arthroscopic surgery. Mayo Clinic anesthesiologists use regional anesthesia with pain-control catheters, with a goal of returning home the day of surgery, usually with little discomfort.
- Tissue transfers: When rotator cuff tears are too large to be repaired, Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeons can transfer tissue (such as soft tissue flaps or muscle) as a substitute for the damaged rotator cuff.
- Partial or full shoulder replacement: Some people with long-standing rotator cuff tears develop a unique form of arthritis (rotator cuff arthropathy). One solution is partial shoulder replacement (hemiarthroplasty). Another, more innovative solution available at Mayo Clinic is a reverse ball-and-socket procedure: the ball and socket anatomy of the shoulder is reversed, with an artificial metal ball prosthesis attached to the shoulder and a plastic socket fashioned and attached to the end of the humerus.
Mayo Clinic will prescribe an individualized physical therapy program based on the surgery performed and the condition of the bone and soft tissue. You will continue to rebuild shoulder strength for up to a year after surgery. You should be able to return to activities such as golf or tennis within four to five months after surgery.
Read more about rotator cuff injury treatment at MayoClinic.com.