With remarkable advancements in the field of medical science, satisfactory surgical and non-surgical treatments are available for many health conditions. Surgical intervention, usually, provides a permanent solution to the problem as compared to the medical one. However, the truth of this statement largely depends upon the condition under question. Usually, if you are diagnosed with a significantly big rotator cuff tear, you would be immediately referred to the surgery department. But, the question under discussion here is what would happen if you do not opt for surgery? Can non-surgical interventions provide a long term solution and allow you to live a normal life?

Rotator Cuff and Its Tears:

A number of muscles and tendons surround your shoulder joint and stabilize it, and collectively, they form the rotator cuff. The purpose of the rotator cuff is to keep the rounded head of your upper arm bone firmly into its shallow socket and keep it from slipping off. These muscles or related ligaments and tendons can get damaged due to acute injury, chronic overuse, or aging. Rotator cuff injury can cause sharp, debilitating pain with a decreased range of movement within the shoulder joint. It is a common condition affecting over 2 million Americans each year. There are two different types of tears:

  • Partial tear: Partial or incomplete tear damages the tendon but does not completely break it.
  • Full-thickness tear: Also called a complete tear, it detaches the tendon from the bone. So, a full thickness tear causes a hole in the tendon.

The Treatment:

Chronic shoulder and arm pain hint towards a rotator cuff injury. It is not a good idea to keep using the joint as it can further worsen the condition. Early treatment can ensure a much quicker recovery. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the pain and other symptoms and restore the normal function. Surgical and non-surgical treatments are available and the treatment best for an individual depends upon a number of factors such as age, general health, activity level, and the type of tear they have. Surgery, by no means, can be declared as the best treatment option in every situation.

In about 80% of the patients, non-surgical treatment relieves symptoms and improves mobility. For many, these non-surgical interventions act as the long term solution, allowing them to return to their normal routine. Non-surgical options include:

  • Rest: Give your joint a break and limit its use. A sling can be used for further support.
  • Activity adjustment: Avoid activities that may possibly cause pain and further damage.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): NSAIDS such as ibuprofen help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Strengthening exercises: Certain exercises can help restore normal movements and strengthen the joint.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy produces remarkable results and causes substantial improvement among patients.
  • Steroids: Steroidal injections can significantly help relieve your symptoms if the above-mentioned interventions fail to work.

A combination of the above-mentioned treatments can provide an effective alternative to surgical treatment.