Rotator cuff tears are a prevalent shoulder injury, particularly among athletes, older adults, and individuals whose work involves repetitive overhead motions. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and facilitate a wide range of arm movements. When a tear occurs, it can lead to significant pain, weakness, and loss of function. Understanding the most common treatments for a torn rotator cuff is essential for anyone facing this condition. Dr. Michael Bercik, a renowned orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder injuries, offers various treatment options for rotator cuff tears.

Causes and Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears

What Is the Most Common Treatment for a Torn Rotator Cuff?Rotator cuff tears can be caused by acute injuries, such as falling on an outstretched arm or lifting something too heavy, as well as by chronic degeneration due to repetitive stress or aging. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Felt on the front and side of the shoulder, especially during specific movements or when lying on it.
  • Weakness: Difficulty lifting the arm, reaching overhead, or carrying objects.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Restricted shoulder movement hinders daily activities.
  • Crepitus: Crackling sensation or sound when moving the shoulder.
  • Swelling and Tenderness: The shoulder may be swollen and tender to the touch.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments can often effectively rotator cuff tear symptoms and improve shoulder function. These treatments are typically the first line of defense:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that worsen the pain helps reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.
  • Physical Therapy: Customized exercise programs designed by physical therapists can strengthen shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen manage pain and reduce inflammation. Corticosteroid injections may be used for more significant relief.
  • Ice and Heat Therapy: Ice reduces swelling and numbs pain, while heat relaxes muscles and improves blood flow.

Surgical Treatments

Surgical intervention may be necessary when non-surgical treatments fail to relieve symptoms or if the tear is severe. Dr. Bercik’s expertise in advanced surgical options for rotator cuff tears includes:

  • Arthroscopic Repair: A minimally invasive procedure that involves making small incisions and using a camera (arthroscope) to guide the repair. This technique typically results in less pain and a quicker recovery than open surgery.
  • Open Repair: Involves making a larger incision to directly access the shoulder and repair the tendon. While open repair is effective for severe tears, it may involve a more extended recovery period.
  • Mini-Open Repair: Combining both arthroscopic and open repair methods, Dr. Bercik uses arthroscopy to assess and treat the tear, then makes a small incision to complete the repair. This approach balances the benefits of both techniques, offering a comprehensive repair with a shorter recovery time.
  • Tendon Transfer: May be an option for very large tears that cannot be repaired directly and involves transferring a nearby tendon to replace the damaged rotator cuff tendon.
  • Shoulder Replacement: If the rotator cuff tear is associated with severe arthritis, shoulder replacement surgery may be necessary. Depending on the condition of the tendons, this can involve a total or reverse shoulder replacement.

Take the First Step Toward Recovery

The most common treatment for a torn rotator cuff typically begins with non-surgical options; however, surgical intervention may be required when these methods are insufficient. Dr. Michael Bercik is a top choice for shoulder surgery, offering extensive expertise and a range of advanced treatment options. If you are experiencing symptoms of a rotator cuff tear, contact Dr. Bercik to discuss your treatment options and take the first step toward recovery.