Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment of rotator cuff tear can be non-surgical and surgical.

Non-surgical treatment-- The non-surgical treatment usually includes activity modification and medications like NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and steroids to relieve pain and inflammation. The shoulder is allowed to rest. Usually, a sling is used to limit the shoulder activity. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises are recommended to regain shoulder mobility. Nonsurgical management of a rotator cuff tear is successful in approximately 50% of patients.

Surgical treatment

The surgical treatment is indicated if the non-surgical treatment fails or when the tear is acute and is very painful. The type of surgery depends on the size and location of tear. Sometimes, surgery for rotator cuff tear doesn’t require an overnight stay in the hospital.

Three types of surgical techniques are used:

  • Open repair—It is the traditional method of surgery. An incision is made over the shoulder and the tear is repaired.
  • Mini-open repair—this method is same as the open repair method, only the incision given is small.
  • Arthroscopic repair—it is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is performed using an arthroscope, a type of endoscope inserted through a small incision.



The surgical treatment of rotator cuff tear may have some complications like nerve injury, deltoid detachment, infection, stiffness of the shoulder joint or re-tear of the tendon. The complication rate is estimated to be approximately 10%.


After surgery, most patients are advised to use a sling for the first 4 to 6 weeks and are instructed to limit active use of the arm. An exercise program is planned to regain strength and range of motion. Complete recovery may take 4 to 6 months.



American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons