In part four in our series on the rotator cuff we look at treating rotator cuff injuries and the options you have.
The way we treat a rotator cuff injury depends on your age, level of activity and the nature of the tear.
Likewise, if you are older, we will take a less aggressive route than we do with those who are younger and more active.
We also consider the nature of your injury. If you’re suffering from inflammation such as tendinitis or bursitis [article 3], non-surgical treatment such as physiotherapy and steroid injections may be sufficient.
In these cases, you can also use anti-inflammatory pain medications and ice compresses to relieve your pain.
The opposite end of the spectrum would be a full-thickness rotator cuff tear, which for a younger person usually means surgery.
What’s involved with rotator cuff surgery?
Rotator cuff surgery [article 6] involves re-attaching the torn tendon to the bone to help you regain shoulder movement and strength.
The timeframe within which you can return to work depends on what you do for a living.
A desk worker may be back at work as early as a week after surgery, while a tradesman or warehouse worker may not be able to return to their job for 4-6 months.
There is no ‘hard and fast’ rule as to how a rotator cuff injury is treated; it really dependson the patient, their medical history, their lifestyle and their wishes.
However, it is important to seek specialist help as early as possible.
Rotator cuff tears don’t heal on their own and can worsen over time, so early diagnosis and treatment may prevent your symptoms getting worse and help you return to your normal routine much faster.
For part five in our series on rotator cuff injuries, Rotator Cuff Tears & Surgery – What You Can Expect, we look at surgery and returning to day to day activities.