Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I have a large rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder. I've been putting off surgery and trying everything else first. I'm ready to throw the towel in and have the surgery. How do you know when it's too late for an operation to help?


There's nothing wrong with trying conservative care before going for a rotator cuff repair. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs help. In other cases, cortisone injections or physical therapy can make a difference. But for patients who still have pain, loss of motion, and reduced function, surgery may be the best option. Many patients put it off for months and even years. They still report a good result after the operation. New methods using arthroscopic surgery and tiny incisions have changed the results of this operation. Even full-thickness tears or tendons that have retracted far away from the place where they normally attach can have a good outcome. Deniz Baysal, MD, FRCS(C), et al. Functional Outcome and Health-Related Quality of Life After Surgical Repair of Full-Thickness Rotator Cuff Tear Using a Mini-Open Technique. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September 2005. Vol. 33. No. 9. Pp. 1346-1355.

*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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