Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I tore the rotator cuff of my left shoulder last year. I tried treating it with drugs and physical therapy but it didn't get better. Now I have to have an operation. Did I do the wrong thing by waiting to have surgery?


Most doctors will support a conservative approach for small or partial tears of the rotator cuff. If you're not an athlete with a need for a strong, mobile shoulder, a rehab program can work quite well.

The decision to operate is often based on the type and size of rotator cuff tear. Medium to large tears usually require surgery to repair them. The longer the patient waits, the greater the chances for problems after the operation.

A recent study from Austria showed that chronic, untreated tears of the long biceps tendon have poorer results than other types of tears. The study also showed a longer wait time before the repair took place makes a difference. A longer wait time is directly linked to results.

You did the right thing by following your doctor's advice and getting the care you needed.

Harald Boszotta, MD, and Klaus Prünner, MD. Arthroscopically Assisted Rotator Cuff Repair. In Arthroscopy. July-August 2004. Vol. 20. No. 6. Pp. 620-626.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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