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Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms and Injury Treatment

Torn Rotator Cuff Symptoms & Treatment

An auto accident injury can be a scary experience, especially when you don′t know what to expect next. We′re here to address your questions about various types of injury treatment, so you know what to expect when you come into the office.

What is a torn rotator cuff?

A rotator cuff tear is a term used to describe tears to any one of the four rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder muscles. Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include:

  • Loss of range of motion in the shoulder

  • Tenderness and pain in the shoulder, especially when reaching overhead

  • Shoulder weakness

What causes a torn rotator cuff?

Tears in the rotator cuff are fairly common. Frequently, a torn rotator cuff can be caused when the arm is used to break an impact, like in an auto accident.

How is a torn rotator cuff diagnosed?

Your doctor can often diagnose a torn rotator cuff through a physical examination. However, if you are in too much pain or the physical examination is inconclusive, your doctor may have you undergo an MRI or other radiological testing.

How do you treat a torn rotator cuff?

Treatment for a rotator cuff injury primarily involves physical therapy. Your physical therapist will provide you with exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe pain management medication. In some more severe cases, you may require surgery.

What is the recovery time for a torn rotator cuff?

If surgery is necessary, recovery time lasts a minimum of six weeks. With a nonsurgical option like physical therapy, recovery time may vary depending on the severity of your injury, your age, and other additional factors.

What are the treatment options for a torn rotator cuff?

When you suffer a torn rotator cuff, you have two treatment options: surgical and nonsurgical. Many doctors will attempt to treat a torn rotator cuff without surgery first, only resorting to surgery if nonsurgical means do not improve shoulder function.

What can I expect from nonsurgical rotator cuff treatment options?

Nonsurgical treatment for a torn rotator cuff may include:

About half of patients see major results without surgery, although this treatment path usually does not restore full shoulder strength. Additionally, the size of the tear may increase over time if it is not surgically repaired.


What can I expect from rotator cuff surgery?

Rotator cuff surgery is a treatment path taken by those who haven’t seen significant results after 6-12 months of nonsurgical treatment, or those who’ve suffered a very large tear.

The surgeon will attempt to reattach the rotator cuff tendon to the part of the bone where it tore off, either with metal or dissolvable material. This procedure can either be performed traditionally with a large incision, or guided by a small camera (arthroscopically).


What is the recovery time for a torn rotator cuff?

After surgery, the area may be immobilized with a sling for 4-6 weeks. Once you are able to move the area again, you will undergo physical therapy to regain strength and movement in the area. Full recovery can take up to six months.


Without surgery, you should see symptom improvement within six months to one year. As previously stated, most nonsurgical patients never fully recover the shoulder strength they had before the injury. Nonsurgical treatments are ultimately treating the symptoms, not the tear itself.


At Sall Myers, our bilingual staff is equipped to handle many different types of accident injuries. If you’ve been in a car accident in New Jersey and need treatment for a torn rotator cuff, please call us at 866-609-4448 or fill out our contact form.

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