The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons that form a “cuff” and attach to the top of the humerus, the long bone in the upper arm. Rotator cuff tears involve some combination of these tendons tearing from the “cuff” area covering the bone.

By age 60, nearly half of the population has a tear, and most are degenerative tears. The larger the tear, the greater the decrease in function. These tears do not heal on their own, and tend to grow incrementally over time. This does not necessarily mean that you need surgery.

Rotator Cuff Treatment

Tears often respond well to conservative treatments. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen/naproxen, physical therapy, and judicious use of cortisone injections should be considered before surgery. If surgery is needed, the shoulder surgeon performs this procedure arthroscopically through small, half-inch incisions. After this outpatient operation, you can expect your affected arm to be in a sling for approximately six weeks to allow the tendon time to heal to the bone, followed by rehabilitation.

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Treatment

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis, also known as shoulder impingement syndrome, is a rare occurrence and best managed without surgery.

Anti-inflammatory medications and injections can be beneficial. In some rare cases, an arthroscopic procedure such where inflamed tissue and a small bone spur may be removed.

Talk to your primary care provider and the shoulder surgeon about the factors you should consider before surgery. If surgery is determined to be the best course of action, the shoulder and elbow surgeon will thoroughly discuss the post-operative recovery and rehabilitation process.