Will My Torn Rotator Cuff Heal on Its Own?

Will My Torn Rotator Cuff Heal on Its Own?

You’ve hurt your shoulder and learned you may have a torn rotator cuff. Shoulder injuries can be disabling, and it may be difficult to lift your arm. Your shoulder is weak, and you can’t carry anything with the injured arm. 

Our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine are the experts to see when you have a musculoskeletal injury. We’ve treated hundreds of rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries with excellent results. 

What is the rotator cuff? 

Muscles and tendons in your shoulder comprise your rotator cuff. The name is apt because the muscles and tendons help you rotate your arms in various directions. Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The cuff surrounds and protects the top of your arm bone or the “ball” and helps keep it in the “socket” of your shoulder.   

What is a rotator cuff tear?

Your tendons join your muscles to your bones. In your rotator cuff, the end of the muscle near the bone is a tendon. If you’ve torn your rotator cuff, one or more tendons have separated from the bone in your arm. 

There are different grades of rotator cuff tears, from Grade 1 to Grade 4. A Grade 1 tear is a fray less than one centimeter in the tendon. A Grade 4 tear is a complete tear and may involve more than one tendon. 

A partial tear means part of the tendon is still attached to your arm bone. A complete tear means that the tendon is no longer attached to the bone and has a hole or rip. 

Will my rotator cuff heal on its own? 

Rotator cuff tears don’t heal on their own. They’ll worsen if left untreated. You don’t want to end up with chronic shoulder pain and lose function in your arm.

Treatment for rotator cuff tears

Depending on the severity of your rotator cuff tear, minor or more invasive treatment varies in the following ways: 

Minor/small rotator cuff tears

The good news is that about 80 percent of rotator cuff tears are treated without surgery. If your tear is minor, we provide an arm sling to keep your shoulder immobilized, which helps it heal. We provide a doctor’s note if you’ve injured yourself at work so that you have time to rest the shoulder. You’ll need to take a break if it’s an overuse injury from tennis, baseball, or another sport or hobby. 

Your doctor can administer a steroid injection if you’re in severe pain. We can also provide a prescription pain reliever for temporary use while your inflammation subsides. Then we prescribe physical therapy to help you regain strength and mobility in your shoulder. We offer physical therapy right in our office, which can save you some trips back and forth for treatment. 

Major rotator cuff tears 

If you have a large rotator cuff tear, you may have cartilage damage and/or a bone spur as well. Your surgeon performs arthroscopic surgery using a tiny camera inserted through small incisions in your shoulder. He repairs the tendon and joins it to the bone again. He also scrapes away any frayed cartilage and shaves bone spurs. 

Your arm will be in a sling for a few weeks, and then you’ll start physical therapy. You’ll regain function in four to six months, but it could take up to a year for the shoulder to feel normal. 

If you have a soft tissue or bone injury or undiagnosed musculoskeletal pain, call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine or go online to schedule an appointment at our West Memphis, Arizona or Collierville, Tennessee, office today. We’ll get you back in the game again.

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