At TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine our physicians will say that “We use surgery as a last resort.” for when other treatments and therapies fail to yield results. The rotator cuff is a complex of muscles and tendons that attach to bones in the shoulder girdle, this allows for the wide range of movement in our shoulders and arms. A rotator cuff tear is whenever a muscle or ligament in this area is partially or completely torn. This condition can be difficult to recover from for several factors. The shoulder is an area of the body with particularly poor circulation, and it is also one of the most used parts of our body. For these reasons rotator cuff recoveries can be more of a marathon than a sprint.
What Happens if A Rotator Cuff Injury is Left Untreated
Depending on the severity of the tear different outcomes are possible if a tear is left untreated. If the tear is minimal, and you allow time for rest and recovery there is a chance that it may heal on its own. Another thing to consider is your body’s healing factor. If you have diabetes, smoke, or consume alcohol, these things will affect your body’s ability to naturally heal. That said, if you neglect to let your body rest and recover, continual overuse may worsen the injury. If your rotator cuff tear is severe, being more than 90% of the tissue is torn, it is extremely unlikely that it will heal on its own without surgical intervention. Rotator cuff tears are serious conditions, if you suspect you may have one make an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists immediately.
How Long Does it Take for a Torn Rotator Cuff to Heal Without Surgery
The length of time a rotator cuff will take to heal without surgery can vary from person to person and is dependent upon a myriad of factors. Assuming the tear is minor, with proper rest and recovery it could take four to six weeks to be fully recovered from that tear. If the tear is worse than that, or if not given proper treatment those tears may never heal on their own. This is why even if the tear is minor, it is still important to seek the guidance of an orthopedic shoulder specialist. Attempting to restrict your movement on your own could potentially lead to other issues such as a frozen shoulder.
Surgery Alternatives for Torn Rotator Cuff
There is a plethora of nonsurgical alternatives to treat a torn rotator cuff. If you suspect you may have torn your rotator cuff, seek guidance from an orthopedic shoulder specialist immediately, so they can determine which treatment may be appropriate for you. The most common treatment is rest, avoid overusing that shoulder, avoid lifting heavy objects, lifting objects away from your body, and avoid lifting objects overhead. Another common treatment recommendation is physical therapy. Physical therapy is a fantastic way to strengthen the affected muscle in a safe and controlled environment, under the supervision of experts. Steroid injections are also another way to help treat a torn rotator cuff, these may help reduce inflammation and prevent the injury from being reaggravated.
When to Get Rotator Cuff Surgery
If after exhausting nonsurgical alternatives your pain is persistent and interrupts your daily activity, your shoulder specialist may recommend rotator cuff repair surgery. Sometimes the damage done to the muscle is too great for it to heal on its own, or with less aggressive treatments. Rotator cuff repair surgery has advanced greatly. TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine has a host of shoulder specialists, and sports medicine surgeons trained in performing these complex surgeries. If you feel that your life has been impacted by shoulder pain or immobility, contact us today.
Remember Your Options
If you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, do not worry, as mentioned earlier there is a wide array of non-surgical alternatives to keep in mind when it comes to your shoulder health. There is no need to allow this injury to dictate how you live your life. Contact TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine and ask to speak to one of our shoulder specialists. They are trained to assist you in navigating your shoulder injury in a way that best suits your needs. If you have pain and need assistance, contact TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine today.