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Rotator Cuff Injury

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by Calvagna M

(Rotator Cuff Tear; Impingement Syndrome)



The treatment will depend on the extent of your injury, level of pain, and amount of immobility. The first step is usually a nonsurgical approach.


  • Rest—to help the shoulder heal. The doctor may recommend that you wear an arm sling to help rest the shoulder area.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—to help control the pain if there is inflammation
  • Topical pain medicines (such as creams or patches) that are applied to the skin
  • Corticosteroid injections—to help reduce swelling and pain
  • Injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP) to reduce bleeding
  • Ice—to help reduce swelling and pain. Apply ice to shoulder area for 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day.
  • Physical therapy—to help strengthen and increase motion in the shoulder area


This involves surgery on the bony structures that impinge the rotator cuff. Surgery can be arthroscopic or open.
A small instrument is inserted into the shoulder and used to remove bone spurs or degenerated portions of the rotator cuff tendons. Lesser tears can be repaired during arthroscopy as well.
Mini-Open Repair with Arthroscopy
This combines arthroscopy with an incision in the shoulder joint. Through the incision, the doctor can suture larger tears in the tendons or muscles.
Open Surgery
This is used to repair the injured tendon or muscle in more severe cases. A tissue transfer or a tendon graft can be done during surgery if the tear is too large to be closed together. In the most severe cases, a joint replacement may be necessary.


Depending on the extent of your injury, full recovery can take anywhere from two to six months, and sometimes longer.
If you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury, follow your doctor's instructions.
If you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury, follow your doctor's instructions.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine



Canadian Orthopaedic Association

The University of British Columbia Department of Orthopaedics



Castricini R, et al. Platelet-rich plasma augmentation for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Feb;39(2):258-65.

Deu RS. Common Sports Injuries: Upper Extremity Injuries. Clin Fam Pract. 2005 Jun; 7(2); 249-265.

Rotator cuff tear. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 28, 2012. Accessed October 23, 2012.

Smith MA, Smith WT. Rotator cuff tears: an overview. Orthop Nurs. 2010;29(5):319-322

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.


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