Treatment varies according to the type of injury. Non-surgical treatment options to relieve pain and improve shoulder function include:
- Rest and limiting overhead activities and activities that cause shoulder pain
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Strengthening exercises and physiotherapy to restore movement and strengthen your shoulder
- Steroid injections
If the pain persists and does not improve with non-surgical methods, or if you actively use your arms for work or sports, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Depending on the type and extent of your injury, your doctor may perform one of these procedures:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair: this requires several small incisions, allowing the surgeon to insert a small camera and small tools to reattach torn tendon to the bone.
- Open tendon repair: some injuries may require a larger incision for the surgeon to reattach the tendon.
- Tendon transfer: in the event the torn tendon is too damaged for reattachment, the surgeon may use tendons from a nearby area instead to replace the damaged tendon.
- Shoulder replacement: significant injuries to the rotator cuff may mean that repair is not viable and the joint needs to be replaced.
Post-surgery, you will need to use a sling for several weeks to allow the rotator cuff to heal, and physiotherapy will be an important part of your recovery. With daily exercises and regular sessions with a physiotherapist, your shoulder strength and motion will gradually improve. For most patients, it will take around 6 months to resume normal activity.
Consult an orthopaedic surgeon to determine the treatment method most suitable for you.
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