Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I think I have a torn rotator cuff but I don't want surgery. Is there something I can do to help myself?

Answer:

If you do have a torn rotator cuff, you should have this verified by your doctor. Some tears should be repaired by surgery. Minor tears and some larger ones can be managed without surgery but you should do this with your doctor's help to prevent further injury.

Some ways of helping a painful shoulder that your doctor may recommend are:

Alternate periods of ice and heat to reduce swelling inside the shoulder and to relax the muscles

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve the pain and reduce swelling

Keep your shoulder still; this could mean using a sling, or just being very careful

Don't lift or stretch over your head

After a few days, exercising your shoulder with special exercises to strengthen it, keep it limber, and to prevent further injury P.O.Zingg, MD, et al. Clinical and Structural Outcomes of Nonoperative Management of Massive Rotator Cuff Tears. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. September 2007. Vol. 89-A. No. 9. Pp. 1927-1934.

*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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