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  • Physical Therapy As Effective As Surgery for Rotator Cuff Tears

    A recent study from Finland asserts that when it comes to treatment of nontraumatic rotator cuff tears, physical therapy alone produces results equal to those produced by arthroscopic surgery and open surgical repair. According to the study's authors, follow-ups of 167 shoulders treated show that "conservative treatment should be considered as the primary treatment for this condition."

    The research, published in the January issue of Bone and Joint Journal (abstract only available for free), was built around treatment of 173 patients aged 55 and older (mean age 65) with supraspinatus tendon tears. Patients were assigned to 3 groups: the first group received physical therapy only; the second group received acromioplasty and physical therapy; and the third group was treated with rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty, and physical therapy. Each group contained similar age ranges and equal distribution by sex. After exclusions and drop-outs, 167 shoulders were available for assessment.

    Components of the physical therapy treatment remained the same across groups: patients were given guidance and information on home exercise that focused on glenohumeral motion and active scapular retraction for the first 6 weeks, with increases during the next 6 weeks, followed up by increased strength and resistance training for up to 6 months. Participants were also referred for 10 physical therapy sessions in an outpatient clinic.

    When patients were assessed using the Constant score at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year, researchers found substantial similarity in rates of improvement. "Contrary to our hypothesis, surgical repair of a supraspinatus tear does not improve the Constant score when compared with acromioplasty only or conservative treatment," the authors write. Additionally, the patients' subjective satisfaction ratings were the same for all 3 approaches.

    The findings even seemed to contradict the placebo effect often associated with surgery. Authors noted that participants were aware of the treatment path assigned to them, yet the surgery group did not report markedly different perceptions of improvement. The results led authors to speculate that the similar Constant scores among groups "may simply be due to the similar physiotherapy [regimens]."


    • Based on the prior research regarding the strong correlation between bursal/articular tears and when surgery is appropriate, I find this study to be a possible starting point, but may be misleading in the headline. As the abstract is the only thing I can access, can someone with greater access please assess and report on the power or lack of power in regards to the statistical analysis?

      Posted by sean on 3/13/2014 1:07 AM

    • I need to access the full research article to see what the criteria was for improvement, and how long the patiets had the tears before receiving treatment as well as the degree of fatty infiltration of muscle at initiation of treatment. The title is misleading and should read "non-traumatic rotator cuff tears"

      Posted by Julie Hagigeorges on 3/13/2014 10:49 AM

    • I had my rotar cuff surgery three years ago for a torn rotator cuff and some calcium deposits on my shoulder. It still hurts I went to an orthopedic surgeon and he said the way my arm bends the bone to bone is hitting together I don't know what to do

      Posted by Liza Perry on 3/14/2014 12:15 PM

    • Years ago I worked for a large well-known orthopedic group. Yes, I was employed by a POPTS - respected as a colleague for my skills, experience, and my professional judgment. I treated many patients with definitive partial rotator cuff tears - some traumatic, some attritional or of other non-traumatic origin. Unless findings and symptoms were so overwhelming indicative of necessitating specialized imaging and subsequent surgery, the conservative rehabilitation approach was almost universally tried. The treatment plan, progression, and rehabilitation management of the patient was entirely my responsibility. Most patients that myself and colleagues treated were able to proceed to a successful outcome, never requiring surgery. Of course, this is all anecdotal and reported by a pariah who worked for a POPTS, and unless one's supreme sensitivity to my reportage is an anathema- I am certain many of us do not find this report at all surprising. Conservative care of partial cuff tears has been one of the most rewarding experiences for orthopedic physical therapists for years. Personally, I experienced a definite partial cuff tear in my dominant arm at age 50. My shoulder ER strength was 2/5, flexion 3+/5, ABD 3/5. Pain level at rest 6/10, ROM WFL. Sleep was close to nil unless in reclining position. MRI and probable surgery recommended. Despite my pain and strength deficits, I self-treated for months, continued to practice, continued to exercise - albeit carefully - and avoided all pain reproducing movements/functions/activities. I was able to return to full and uninhibited activity - including racquetball - in six months. Again, an anecdotal report, but an example of a common story we can all probably relate from our own practices. As an aside, I am now 74 and continue to play racquetball with no recurrence of RC injury.

      Posted by Herschel Budlow P.T. on 3/14/2014 9:35 PM

    • How many of us have treated non traumatic rotator cuff tears that were referred to us as "bursitis or tendinitis" and had no imaging for diagnosis but had all the clinical signs? Some recovered and some had significant enough pain to be referred back for imaging and sometimes ultimately surgery. I guess the pain issue is what drives most of my patients to get the surgery. Not everyone can tolerate a rotator cuff tear and the sleep deprivation. I did have the pain and sleep disturbance and I did debate having the surgery but did not. I think it depends on the individual sometimes.

      Posted by J W Corwin PT on 3/17/2014 10:35 AM

    • The MRI is "the tool of the devil" according to Ned Kuhn, MD, orthopedic surgeon from Vanderbilt. I say it typically is the key to the cash register. RCTs are quite common, especially in men over 50, and most of them don't have pain or weakness prompting a visit to their doctor who then refers them to the surgeon; hence the trap has been set and they have walked into it. Dr. Kuhn reported that about 10% of folks over 60 have RCTs - this is about 5.7 million people. They do about 250,000 shoulder surgeries/year in the US and assuming these are all RC surgeries, that amounts to about 4% of the RCTs out there. What do the other 96% do? Research shows that failed repairs are very likely to have a good outcome - so why are so many operated on? In my opinion and that of many others, if he patient does not have frank weakness and/or intractable pain then DO NOT get the MRI! I predict in 10 years or less the shoulder MRI will go the way of the NSLBP MRI and will not be covered - too many false positives that just lead to harms (and of course a transfer of wealth). Asymptomatic full thickness tears are quite common. I suggest PTs do some research in this area and they will find this to be very true.

      Posted by Ed Scott PT, DPT, OCS on 3/20/2014 11:10 AM

    • An impartial review of patient care across all health professionals is not possible when we all work under the umbrella of the medical Profession. They have louder, richer voices than the rest of us. Thanks for studies like this one, we need more of them. If all other Allied Health workers combined, forgot their differences and shared their common interests they would become a more effective lobby. Otherwise we will remain the poor relations.

      Posted by Clare O'Hagan on 3/26/2014 7:18 PM


      Posted by JOEDAN CAVENAUGH on 5/22/2014 9:59 AM

    • In answer to Sean, there were 180 patients originally included in the study, and they were divided evenly between three groups. The study was structured on the hypothesis that the repair surgery would have the best outcomes. So a lack of a statistically significant difference between the outcomes triggered the null hypothesis. When comparing the Constant score between the three treatment groups, p = 0.34.

      Posted by Gary Brazzell on 5/28/2014 5:50 PM

    • I have completely torn 3 tendons in my rt. shoulder (superspinatus and intraspinatus. ) I was told that surgery would not be successful and therapy was prescribed . I play golf left handed and now am unable to finish my follow thru due to the pain. I need advice on whether to continue therapy or go thru the surgery. I would be willing to continue physical therapy if I can play without pain. Please advise. Tony Lamonica

      Posted by Tony LaMonica on 6/24/2014 7:07 PM

    • I have an old AC dislocation from a car accident 25 years ago and 6 months ago fell and had severe shoulder and upper arm pain - an MRI showed a full thickness rotator cuff injury and an x ray significant arthritis. After 6 weeks of very limited shoulder use and heat i felt good and had fair ROM. Now with more activity -i.e gardening and some lifting my shoulder is more painful but no tendenitis as I originally had. Hot showers seem to help. What next?

      Posted by Laurie on 7/5/2014 12:44 AM

    • I am finding the information on this Web site to be very helpful. It is difficult to decide whether or not to have the surgery. There is often tremendous pain with the rotator cuff injury, and, of course, restrictions in one's lifestyle. (Especially at the outset.) However, it is my understanding that this may be considered "elective surgery"...which adds to the dilemma for a retiree (re. medical coverage).

      Posted by Donna McCusker on 8/5/2014 12:58 PM

    • Can someone tell me what exercises I should do to strengthen my rotator cuff and I am willing to do it. I will really appreciate as I have been dealing with pain and pain and I don't want surgery. GOD BLESS YOU and Thank you email: rajpura@yahoo.com

      Posted by Raj on 9/2/2014 8:07 PM

    • I am avid tennis player, and my guess is that I have a partially torn infrapinatus with a full thickness tear due to serving. I do not have any pain when doing normal,physical activities or problems with sleeping. I am now in physical therapy. Overhead activity, mostly trying to serve in tennis is something that definitely hurts. I am of course not playing tennis. I have some interior pain on the right side of the shoulder which is minimal. The MRI showed the partial tear. I do,not want surgery, but am wondering if I will be able to play tennis again. I can serve underhand without pain . Has anyone tried soft tissue therapy? By the way I am 70 years old.

      Posted by Liz on 9/6/2014 1:53 PM

    • I tripped and fell catching myself with my right arm, and my shoulder hurts; sure that I have a possible tear in one of the tendons. Also, my primary physician refered me to a surgean. Through my on method of physical therapy with a "green" band, I'm improving. I believe that your body and good oxygened blood flow can produce the ability to heal itself without surgery.

      Posted by Jim on 9/18/2014 9:46 PM

    • My follow suffers of rotator cuff injuries. Go to website for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and download the exercises for rotator cuff injuries. They do help!

      Posted by JOHN LOHERER on 9/27/2014 7:37 AM

    • I fell and was in so much pain. I had an mri and tore 2 tenant Have received in a year about 5 injections and PT . After I get an injection I feel fine. I'm 51 and I schedualed for surgery in 1 month from now. Getting really nervous now and don't know if I want surgery now. I'm so confussed.

      Posted by Denise golfis on 1/13/2015 8:07 PM

    • Confused what I should do. Have surgery or not

      Posted by Denise Golfis on 1/13/2015 8:28 PM

    • I slipped on the ice and tried unsuccessfully to catch myself and hit my shoulder. Doctor did exam and MRI, torn rotator cuff and a hairline fracture on one of the bones, not the big one. Wondering if fracture will make nonsurgical route still possible.

      Posted by Tom on 1/24/2015 9:25 PM

    • If the tear is full thickness supraspinatus tendon and the medial tendon margin is retracted to the mid acromial is it possible for complete healing with PT alone. My surgery is scheduled for March 9th. My pain is manageable and does not affect sleep.

      Posted by Paula on 2/23/2015 1:38 PM

    • Was dx with bursitis but after more than a year of pt, shots & trigger point therapy I eventually could not use my arm. Finally got an mri, had a massive full thickness tear, tendonosis, and went to surgery followed by more pt. 18 months later I have two complete full thickness tears in the same place and now have arthritis in the joint capsule. Doc insisted it was healed when I complained of pain and limited motion. Had a doc get angry with me when I didn't give him the right responses he expected on exam. He thought I should have carpal tunnel. After xray confirmed arthritis of the thumb, I went to another surgeon. Frankly, the conservative approach has meant misery for me. I also had three cspine surgeries after the doc finally did an mri on my neck. I have permanent nerve damage now. I did not fit into anyones neat little criteria (age of onset 35-now 49) so I received the "conservative" treatment. Now I face possible disability. My comment is a question: what about those folks who don't fit inside the research box, table or graph? I can't find answers because my problems extend beyond the medical communities' graphs and outcomes. Mind you, the doc I speak of is not one but many. I don't trust anybody anymore. Good luck to those folks deciding on surgery or "conservative" treatment.

      Posted by Kristen on 3/13/2015 11:15 PM

    • I agree from the above statement as I also have experience in physiotherapy.

      Posted by Muhammad Tariq on 3/23/2015 8:26 AM

    • I've had 4 RC surgeries (1 full tear, 2 Partials on my right shoulder along with bursitis and one partial on my left). I have since developed severe pain in my neck that prevents me from moving it normally. I also have herniated disc's L4,5 and i think S1. As far as the surgeries unless it disables you from doing daily activities I would recommend PT for a while and see if that helps. I have been unable to work for over 2 years and was terminated from employment in Feb. I do have a disability case pending but I really wish i could've returned to work. I have been miserable physically and emotionally for years now. I don't wish this on anyone. Stay away from the knife as long as possible

      Posted by Anthony Sacco on 4/24/2015 10:58 AM

    • I am 74 years old. I have always been into heavy exercise. I tore my right rotator cuff at age 60. Everything healed perfect with no pain and no ROM problems. It took a year of careful PT and exercise before I was back to normal. However, I was as good as new and went back to my old exercise program. Everything was fine for 14 years. I have now messed up my left shoulder. I was very stupid. I felt so Good that about five years ago I started doing Dips again (the same exercise that messed up my right shoulder 14 years ago). I had an MRI and the results were: 1. Acromioclavicular Arthropathy. Large joint effusion dissects into the acromioclavicular joint indicating the inferior capsule is torn. 2. High-grade tear and retraction of the supraspinatus. 3. At least partial tear and tendinopathy of the subscapularis with mild retraction not excluded. There are a few other things mentioned such as moderate arthritis but I am not worried about these things. I have decided it is best that I give up my exercising as I guess I am just too old. I am now faced with the decision of having the surgery or not to have it. I remember how long it took me to heal the first time. My arm was completely immobilized for six weeks. It took me several months after the cast was removed to have full ROM. The Doctor did not even offer any alternatives to surgery. That worries me. Any comments on rather I should or should not have the surgery without trying PT, meds, etc first? Thanks

      Posted by Louie Calaway on 5/9/2015 11:34 AM

    • I have had a shoulder problem for a few months, cannot raise arm from the side higher than 45 degree angle. Dr. thinks it's tendinitis/rotator cuff. I had a cortisone shot and then PT for about three weeks now. I'm confused, because the PT has been telling me repeatedly not to do any exercise/movement that hurts my arm. Then he suddenly said I need to push it and unless the pain is unbearable, to just do it and then treat with heat or ice. So I'm not really sure what is best to do! Any advice would be appreciated.

      Posted by Kay on 5/9/2015 5:49 PM

    • I have 80% torn rotator cuff, bursitis, and calcific tendinosis. I've gotten two dr opinions - one says I need surgery, the other says I don't. I don't know what to do. I've tried PT off/on and have been dealing with the pain for about 4 years. To complicate things my left arm was amputated at birth so if I have surgery the recovery will be complicated.

      Posted by jean on 5/14/2015 8:35 PM

    • I have full thickness tear in the rotor cuff.doctor recommends surgery. I do not want surgery I'm 64 with arthritis in the joints and low bone density. I can sleep and I'm exercising the arm.what advice can you help me with to continue without surgery. thanks, Eileen Huettl

      Posted by Eileen Huettl on 8/12/2015 10:33 AM

    • Hi Herschel Budlow, it was good to read your encouraging post. I have a full-thickness tear and 6mm wide in A-P dimension on the anterior side of my supraspinatus. I would like to avoid surgery if not a must. Have you or your coworkers seen full-thickness supraspinatus tear heal without surgery? Thanks.

      Posted by David on 8/13/2015 2:21 PM

    • I am no Doctor but from what I have heard doesn't after a while your body become amune to the med's along with the fact they can also cause damage to other oranges in your body. I have been on 3 different types of pain med's and 2 different muscle refels along with physical thearphy and have had every bone scan, MRI, XR and other EMG along with anything run to find out with is wrong with my shoulder down to my hand on my left hand since Dec and I am still in a lot of pain. I don't let if stop me because of little ones. Now they have decision to do the surgery. So not every case is different with different issues.

      Posted by Eustacia Odle on 8/14/2015 4:27 AM

    • The study is enlightening but I would like to see the results after 2 years or 5 years long after the PT has stopped and patents shoulder exercise regimens have faded.

      Posted by Paul on 8/17/2015 10:29 AM

    • Any time that you can avoid surgery it is for the best. It's exciting news to hear that surgery isn't always the go-to option for a shoulder injury now. Physical therapy is a great way to reduce pain and heal without surgery. Thanks for sharing!

      Posted by Drew on 8/24/2015 9:58 AM

    • I was diagnosed with calcification and torn rotator cuff, and was in severe pain for a while then it eased off but I couldn't lift my right arm above level or twist it. I have been swimming 5 times a week for the last 15 years so and it was a shock to read that this could have caused it. I was recommended an operation quite strongly by an orthopedic specialist surgeon. When I checked with websites they suggested conservative PT first so I went this route with an excellent physiotherapist doing exercises two to three times a day for 5 minutes. Now 4 months later I feel 99.9 % back to normal and I am swimming again and am very glad I didn't have the operation. (although obviously it might be right for some people.)

      Posted by DUNCAN on 9/21/2015 1:21 PM

    • I tore my rotator cuff doing a 75 lb. overhead press. This was an injury I toughed out on my own. I opted out of surgery, I stayed away from OTC meds and applied ice and heat ( alternating) 4 times a day, faithfully for 5 weeks, then backed off the ice and used more heat to draw blood to the area to assist the healing since the inflamation had gone down. I incorporated a 15 minute stretching regimen 3 times a day and still went to the gym, but greatly reduced my lifting weight. Although it hurt doing this somethimes, it as important to not completely avoid using that part of my body because stiffness would set in and supporting muscles in the area would turn atrophic, and that's not good either. I upped my intake of Vitamin C to 1,000 mg a day ( still taking that). Vitamin C is crucial for an injury like this, as your body needs the extra vitmain C to produce collagen to help repair what was damaged. It's been 2 months now, and I'd say I'm about 90% healed. I did my first overhead press since the injury and was able to do 65lb. with no problems or irritation to the area. I big part of recovery is patience, stretching and knowing your limit.

      Posted by Lisa on 11/2/2015 8:39 AM

    • Thank you. I have been so undecided about surgery for a rotator cuff tear. Your page has helped me to trust my body and it will heal itself.The pain is not good and it will take time, but I feel so much better hearing other peoples reports of recovering without surgery. A really good informative page. Thank you.

      Posted by Patricia Travis on 11/6/2015 8:39 AM

    • The MRI says I have a full thickness rotator cuff tear of the supra... tendon - a moderate size tear. The question I and others here have had is can a full thickness tear heal on it's own? Is there an alternative to surgery for full thickness tears that have already caused pain? Yes, I understand that some people have full thickness tears without pain, but for those with pain can they ever get rid of it? Do I risk more pain by waiting to get surgery? I'm 63, with bad bone mineral density, probably poor quality tendons that just wore out. This was not a traumatic injury, but something that just got worse. There are alternatives to surgery, but they seem to be only for partial thickness tears. I've done some exercises recommended by a doctor and they have helped a lot. But I wonder if I'll ever get back to normal just by doing exercise.

      Posted by Doug on 11/9/2015 3:33 AM

    • I have a full rotator cuff tear. I really do not want a reverse total shoulder replacement. Are there any alternatives. PRP is not an option since it is a full tear separation. Are there any new clinical trials or anything else.

      Posted by Marianne Guiliani on 11/15/2015 4:55 PM

    • I had an MRI on May 12, 2015. The results were as follows: "Impression - Severe partial thickness articular surface tear of the anterior aspect of the distal supraspinatus component of the rotator cuff involving 90% of the tendon thickness. 2) Tendinopathy of the supraspinatus tendon. 3) Impingement." Based on those finding, I was recommended by my ORTHO MD, to undergo surgery for a "rotator cuff repair", and was not even recommend any non surgical options or even PT. Since I live alone, and have no family supports, I opted out of surgery and began reading online what my non surgical options were. I decided not to have surgery. Today is 11/27/2015, and after no surgery and no PT, but by using nutritional supplements alone, I have regained almost 98% of my range of motion and use of my right arm/shoulder. I believe that in my case the MD was looking at the $$$$ and not what would have been best for me. Our bodies are wonderful creations and in many instances will heal themselves, if given the opportunity. Would recommend that everyone not be anxious to "jump under the knife", but instead try their non-surgical options for at least half of the time recovering from "rotator cuff surgery" would require.

      Posted by Ann Brown on 11/27/2015 8:58 AM

    • I had rotator cuff surgery at the end of July, it was great, I felt so much better, but a few days ago I had a really high fever and was laying on my shoulder on cold tile and in my bed, I think I may have messed it up now. I have no one to contact since it's a long weekend. I guess I have to hope surgery will repair itself. It hurt a lot, but I was so happy after with no pain!

      Posted by Lisa on 11/27/2015 9:47 AM

    • Just had 1.3 cm. CRT surgically repaired. After earring this I'm pretty bummed!!!

      Posted by Alan Schultz on 12/16/2015 12:06 AM

    • At 40 yrs old I had a degenerative torn rotator cuff on my right shoulder. I suffered for 8 months, loosing sleep and PT did NOT help. It was torture to have and wasn't making it better. I could not sleep well and was taking pain medications. I had surgery which wasn't fun but found out I was pregnant 2 days after surgery so I had to skip all pain medications post op. I was committed to the post op PT and am happy to report I have a great right shoulder. I now have a complete tear to my left shoulder - now 53 years old. Can't sleep, can't work well, and NSAIDS etc are not helping. I will have surgery because I can't afford to waste 8 months screwing around with this. I would rather have 8 months of healing post op than waste it on 8 months of PT and then find out I still need surgery.

      Posted by laura on 1/18/2016 12:09 PM

    • i have a partial full thickness tear in the supraspinatus and impingement I have had Pt for the past eight months and also taking anti inflammatory tablets. I get most of my pain at night causing many sleep disturbed nights .I am having surgery this week .Im very afraid of the pain post surgery .I find myself getting nervous as the surgery date gets closer any advise on how I can help myself to overcome this fear I'm 62 .

      Posted by Maireadmccreesh on 2/7/2016 8:44 AM

    • Had a traumatic injury, which initially PT helped. Aggravated it a couple of months after PT, and have had steroids, more PT, more steroids, none of which helped. Sleep - What was that? Eventually diagnosed with full thickness tear of supra and problem with the acromion. Had an acromioplasty / tendon repair. Immobilized for 4 weeks, then straight into PT. Pre-surgery, I could barely move the arm. Post-operative pain was easily manageable, and now i have much better movement than at any time in the last 3 years. Surgery isn't for everyone, but it is helping me immensely. 4 months post-op and hoping to be able to be reaching above my head soon!

      Posted by Jan Mlotkiewicz on 2/8/2016 6:52 PM

    • wondering what nutritional supplements might help as I, too, am trying to avoid surgery - have had PT for 2 months - actually feels worse. No tear, but arthrosis, bursitis - a few things like that - and I am wondering how long to hang in there with PT - do my exercises faithfully every day - I am 65 - my PT says that if I end up having surgery at least the strengthening things we are doing will be good. He says not to give up.

      Posted by Mary on 2/27/2016 6:41 PM

    • I am 60 yrs old female.. After hvg severe pains on my left arm to extent that I couldn't lift it up , went to Orto surgeon who sent me go a scan which showed that I have a partial rotator cuff tear.. He suggested surgery.. Weekend before surgery date I tripped on the street and fell.. Trying to avoid falling on my left arm I instead fell on my right arm and fractured my rib and had a complete tear on right hand rotator cuff.. Waited for six wks for fracture to repair and then went for operation on right arm for the full year.. Surgeon told me I hve to now wait for the arm to be fully healed to do the left arm... I hve already been for 3 physio therapy sessions and trying to wean myself from painkillers.. Is there any supplements I can take to speed up my healing.. I will be very grateful for any advice on this... Looking forward to your prompt reply.

      Posted by May on 3/5/2016 4:15 AM

    • What are the exercises that can be done to strengthen the arm -- I am interested in this and not pain pills and I am not a candidate for surgery--rotator cuff can not be repaired so if exercises would help what are they?

      Posted by Blanche Schley on 3/7/2016 3:51 AM

    • I had a full tear on the top tendon after a bicycle wreck. I'm a 70 year old smoker and decided I wasn't the best candidate for surgery. I went to P.T. just hoping to learn how to cope. after 6 weeks I had a lot of improvement. It's now 2 months later and no pain and full range of movement. I'm a little weaker in some positions but that is improving steadily. I don't know if the M.R.I. was wrong or what but I'm glad I opted out of surgery. The surgeon sent me to P.T. and wrote me off I guess, so it looks like I'll never know.

      Posted by kenny kulbiski on 3/9/2016 2:29 PM

    • I been having this problem sore shoulder pains past 3 Months. Orthapitic says talk surgery ask Questions, No No Surgery Tear he says im 60 yrs old . Therpy , vitiiams help thanks

      Posted by Bill on 4/3/2016 9:31 PM

    • I am four weeks post surgery for torn Rotator Cuff. Resulting from where the seatbelt crossed left shoulder when rear-ended in car accident by drunk driver. I am 55 years old and somewhat active so I decided on the surgery. Knowing what I know now, I would not have done this surgery. Pain level is moderate, still totally immobile. But here is the big reason, Today I received a $65,000 bill for the surgery. Health insurance is paying zero as they say the surgery center is "OUT OF NETWORK". You can probably guess that this bill is more painful the surgery/recovery. Not enough meds to dull the pain.

      Posted by phil i on 4/6/2016 1:31 PM

    • Anyone seeking treatment should go to APTA's official consumer information website, www.MoveForwardPT.com, which includes information about physical therapy and the Find a PT database, so you can contact a physical therapist near you.

      Posted by PT in Motion News Staff on 4/8/2016 8:06 AM

    • Wow, love the site & the multiple experiences. This one is going to blow your minds. I am a 48 yr post op 4 x right shoulder patient and a 4 x post op left shoulder patient. Was wrongfully misdiagnosed for unilateral instability when I was multidirectional . So my left shoulder starts in 96 when I fell in the Jan 96 snowfall in nj. Conservative treatment for 2 yes while I served on s navy ship destroyed my right shoulder As well as left even more. First surgery open shoulder a shift. It failed. 2nd surgery subcromial decompression surgery. 3rd was a t shift redo to repair 1st failure. Then the epiphany, multidirectional - 4th surgery thermocapsular shrinkage. 2 yrs4 surgerys and 20 % permanently disabled shoulder. Right shoulder, a shift in 98, a thermocapsular shrinkage procedure, anterior , posterior , and inferior to the shoulder. Over constrained anterior repair, w fused biceps tendon. 3rd surgery, repair tore, ac closure interval, 01. 4th surgery, 04 to clean out scar tissue. Doc said, no more, leather is in there. Well prepping for fletc, tore the supraspinatus again 3 weeks ago. Totally depressed and lost for words. Hopeful that reading some of these posts that it will heal. Fortunately, I don't need an mri to tell me the humeral head is moving due to the tear and causing inflammation impingement. I can raddle that b. Around & feel the laxity. I can figure a plus 1 possibly 2. Oh, and those sleepless nights are back again in addition to having a hard time driving a car! Oh, watch the overhead work with constrained problem shoulders, we are susceptible to over bridging the back and getting l4 & l5 disc herniations. Yup got that too!

      Posted by Rich on 4/9/2016 7:11 PM

    • Hello, I've been dealing with a shoulder impingement for more than a year & 6 months. During this time i've attended physical therapy for about 2 & a half months. I felt slight improvement but my right shoulder was still not fully functional. I had to stop going to PT because i ran into some problems with insurance. Anyways, at this point the pain is so bad it hurts my shoulder blades as well. My right arm has limited movement (cant reach above my head without excruciating pain or put my arm behind my back). At certain times the pain is completely intolerable, even when I lay down to sleep. Now I have a new insurance so i'm ready to get medical help again.. Should I get a shoulder MRI or should I just go to straight to PT again? Febin

      Posted by Febin on 5/1/2016 3:05 PM

    • I have been diagnosed with having a rotator cuff tear. I have been dealing with the pain and limitations since September of 2015. Ortho injected cortisone shot which almost made me throw up and it never helped. Then we scheduled surgery. I got pneumonia, cancelled surgery. I went the route of PT. my psin actually worsened. I REALLY don't want surgery. Sleeping at night is tough but I am still caring for a 24 month old grand daughter three days a week and stripping furniture. Psin is there at rest or at work. In reading these comments I am more and more convinced that I should NOT have surgery.

      Posted by Susie on 5/4/2016 9:49 PM

    • I had a bicep tendon surgery a year and a half ago. I am 54 year old female. I had frozen shoulder after the surgery. My doctor gave me a total of 5 cortisone shots over the period of a year and a half. With physical therapy my frozen shoulder was finally improving. Then I hurt my shoulder and now I have a partial tear in my rotator cuff. I cannot have any more steroid shots in this area. Any suggestions?

      Posted by Kelly on 5/19/2016 11:33 AM

    • Tore my rotator cuff November 2015 was in excruciating pain for several months finally had an MRI which confirmed a high grade tear I opted for surgery but scheduled it for the end of May 2016 I have one week to go in the last 2 weeks my shoulder has been getting better and better I have more range of motion I can sleep at night without paying I unable to do small exercises and it seems in general my shoulder is healing I don't know if I should have the surgery or if I should wait to see if it will heal completely I'm definitely not 100% but will I get worse after surgery that's my question

      Posted by Juanita heieck on 5/20/2016 10:48 PM

    • I see a lot of questions on this site but do not see any responses. I, too, have a full tear - mostly from a recent fall but I had pain for years before so may have had a partial tear that I just lived with - and am wondering if PT alone will enable me to fully recuperate so I can golf, kayak and ski. 60 years old

      Posted by Marie on 5/30/2016 2:32 PM

    • I shoot an odd overhead basketball from long range when I play. I play a lot. My right shoulder had the problem described for about six months. Ten years later my left shoulder is there. I have to stop playing for now. I am right handed so I can hit the tennis ball. I discovered that after a few days hitting the ball against the wall, my left shoulder improved. I did not use it, but it was hanging as I moved. I will not play basketball until there is full range of motion and zero pain. The only way I would do surgery is if the pain became too much and I experienced no improvement over a long period of time accompanied by me not doing things to agitate my shoulder. in other words....back off completely and see what happens.

      Posted by Dorian on 6/6/2016 10:31 AM

    • I have 4 tears in my right shoulder,is it really possible not to get the surgery

      Posted by Donna Menchin on 6/16/2016 6:38 PM

    • I am a Patient Care Technician, and on April 13 lifting a patient at work I had an injury 1 cm tear, full thickness and light torn in my r-shoulder, Workers Comp. assigned me an orthopedic that wants to do surgery, since I am in the process to start another job I didn't know what to do, the orthopedic told me is the only option, for full recovery a least five to eight months, and I believed him, hopeless I get home and told my husband who refused for me to do surgery, then I Google it and find out that I can be healed with physical therapy, so checking youtube I start it at home, amazingly I start feeling better, so I called the case manager asking for a second opinion authorization, I was denied, was like the she was not working on my behalf, but in the behalf of the doctor, then I spoke with the orthopedic and he was very disappointed threatening me that he will close the case because I refuse surgery and my job will do what the have to do, I almost cried and beg him not to do that just give me physical Therapy and a Cortisone shot, finally I told him "be clear that I refused surgery and not treatment", then he gave me the order for physical therapy, but not the cortisone shot. In a lot of pain I start the therapy for five weeks, twice a week because the therapist work Monday through Thursday, and I can't request another therapist because I was assigned that one. Two weeks ago I visit my primary doctor for a rash, he gave me the cortisone shot, unbelievable didn't help much for my rash, but the pain in my shoulder was almost over. Feeling 90% better, today I saw the orthopedic for a follow up, he discharged me with a note that I can not use my right arm to lift at all and I am not allowed to lift patients. With this note do you thing I can get my new job? I know I can pass the test if I can take it, but do this new job will take the test with this note? Since January I filled all the requirements and unfortunately this happens to me a month before my physical. I called to beg him, please change the note because I may miss the opportunity to work a this great hospital and he told me that he will clear me only after I have my surgery with him, because he is not to put his license I a risk for my own benefit. I already resign to this job and my last day will be in two more days. what should I do? I do not want to stay in this job one more day, this people take advantage of us giving us to many patients.

      Posted by Lucy on 6/22/2016 9:09 PM

    • How do you get responses to the descriptions and explanations from people dealing with RC tears, etc.

      Posted by Mary Ann Sarver on 6/30/2016 1:35 PM

    • I have a full RCT in my left shoulder & also suffer from painful peripheral neuropathy. Can any anybody offer a good site for PT exercises? I had a TIA recently so the surgeon does not recommend surgery.

      Posted by jag singh on 7/2/2016 2:46 PM

    • This will help all the Full Tear Guys and Girls. Early December 2015 experienced shoulder discomfort and tenderness from benching 70kg at gym. Continued to lift with reduced weight still with discomfort. Late January severe injury to the shoulder whilst paddling for a wave in the surf had limited ROM and very painfull. Ultrasound in late February showed Full thickness tear to Supraspinatus Tendon, Subdeltoid bursitis, Painfull impringement on abduction, Bursitis of the subscapularus and bursitis deep to the coracoacromial ligament, infraspinatus bursitis and effusion in the sheath of the long head biceps. You would agree a dismal outlook, my doctor recommended surgery but then I found this forum and based on the comments deceided to give PT a go. I attended Physio end of Feb at that time I had limited ROM only a little pain at sleep and when arm at rest, very painfull under load and painfull impringement on a regular basis. 8 weekly physio visits with home stretching and strengthing exercises daily also attending GYM 3 days a week just strengthening avoiding anything painfull. 30/3 Strengthening regime lateral lifts of dumbbell starting at 2kg (12 x3) still painfull under 2kg load, no pain at night or at rest 30/4 Still at 2kg, 2.5 kg too painfull to lift continue to stretch and strengthen, regular painfull impringement still evident. 23/5 2.5kg still too painfull continue with 2kg, impringement regularity decreasing, continue stretch and GYM. No pain at night or arm at rest. 30/5 Increase weight to 2.5kg impringement regularity reducing. 14/6 Increase weight to 3kg, Impringement rare. Continue stretching exercises everyday 21/6 3kg weight ok no pain under lift increase weight to 4 kg (3 x 12) some tenderness and slight increase in impringement. 5/7 4KG (3 X 12) still some soreness whilst lifting decrease in impringement 12/7 4kg weight ok no pain in lift minimal impringement, increase weight to 5 kg (3 x 12) a little discomfort but overall ok. 12/7 Back in surf today after 7 months 2 hours in the water with a 4 foot swell lots of paddling around shoulder is a little sore but I would say I am rehabilitated, I will continue to stretch and lift and I hope my circumstances will give others some hope that surgery may not be becissary and PT can do the job

      Posted by Mark Brownfield on 7/12/2016 4:12 AM

    • i torn my rotator cuff 6 months ago and I decided to stay with PT, and today I have a good rotation, but I am about 75% heal. Now, since i like to play tennis I am not sure if I should have surgery?

      Posted by ben on 7/23/2016 6:48 PM

    • i am so confused i am scheduled for surgery tomm.! w/full thickness tear, pain has been getting worse over the past month surgery or no surgery?and also, it is retracted from the bone?

      Posted by lori on 8/9/2016 5:37 AM

    • 6 years ago I was in a car crash. My parents call it a freak accident but I see it as a car crash. Freak accident to my legs and three broken bones in my foot. Not for my right rotator cuff though. After September of last year when my mother in law accidentally left me with too much luggage at the Hard Rock hotel, going in, my arm came right out of its socket. After that injury 6 years ago and having too much weight that I had to push, it not only haunts me but taunts me every night for the past three months already. I can not stretch my right arm out too much because it does feel like bone-on-bone in the middle of the arm and can not turn my arm a certain way. It hurts the back of my cuff so bad and certain sudden movements that I would accidentally make, like placing my weight on it and sleeping in pin the right side (tosser-turner) hurts a lot. I have been going in for TP and is not helping much at all. I am a rebound athletic runner and writer and doesn't hurt me much on those instances. I just need to know what is going to happen to me after I get my MRI soon. My cuff and shoulder gets way too many spasms and it irritates me every night. There were times when I used to sleep right. I do have Aspergers and anxiety disorder and would like to toughen this through with one simple question for those in the medical field. What is the difference, in medical science terms, between surgery and an operation? Which one sounds more like something I should go through? Also, what is the likelihood of prosthetics in this matter or something more Iron-Man-like that will keep my shoulder and arm together?

      Posted by Matthew Newman on 8/9/2016 10:27 PM

    • Just told full thickness tear of supraspinatus tendon 10 mm gap. Surgery or therapy? Thanks to this forum, I'll do therapy first.

      Posted by Ray R on 9/19/2016 7:39 PM

    • From all the comments on full thickness supraspinatus - rotator cuff tear - the answer is not surgery. I had a fall last December - took nothing of it, until a few months ago, when I started with arm pain. Did some Osteopathic treatment, which would help but then, the pain was back, mostly at nite. Being it is my dominant hand, right handed - overuse sometimes was the culprit. I am not a fan of going to the doctor, but decided to go a week ago. I had an ultra sound which showed I have a full thickness tear. Something I did not wish to hear. The doctor is recommending me to a specialist. I am all for non-invasive procedures. I will not go for surgery. I have started acquacise and have always done yoga - which seems to help. I will continue to do those things, and tumeric in warm almond milk I read is good for inflammation also, ginger root. I have nothing to lose in trying this non-invasive treatments. I must say, that my pain is worse at nite - I am afraid that I may strangle myself from all the props lol Good luck to all.

      Posted by Narri Bacchus on 9/20/2016 12:15 PM

    • I had pain in my shoulder and could serve a tennis ball nor could I pull the cord on my lawnmorer. I could not reach or lift anythng heavy.I could not sleep on my shoulder becuse of excruciating pain. An e-ray and MRI indicated i had a rotator cuff tear. I went a professional physical thearpist for six weeks and not much changed. I started doing my own phsical thearpy and performing excrecise with exercise equipment at home every morning. Approximately six months later i can reach, lift and play tennis using an horizonal motion. I'm afraid to try a full motion of serving the tennis ball right now. Not sure i am completely healed but appear to be heading in that direction. Need another MRI to determined how much healing has been done.

      Posted by Norvell Broown on 10/13/2016 5:17 PM

    • I had rotary cuff surgery 08/16 due to a tear in my right shoulder from a fall (directly onto concrete) May 2016 tried PT for awhile but the pain was not subsiding so PCP ordered an MRI and referral me to specialist.Having been in constant pain for three months I opted for the surgery route. One week ago had a three month follow-up visit and x-ray that showed healing is taking normal course and overall looks good aside from scar tissue that appears to be interfering with my range of motion progress. The doctor mentioned I may require some cortisone injections. I am stil in alot of consistent pain, this is my dominant arm , there is obvious weakness and it tires easily. During recent holiday, I was stiring a pot of greens when my shoulder completely gave out, so my daily functioning is still hampered. Sleep is disturbed due to the pain, cannot lay on my right shoulder for longer than ten minutes but prior to shoulder could not rest at all on my right shoulder. Question what are the risk of steroid injections into my shoulder? And how much longer will I be in daily pain pretty much consistent pain? By, the way I faithfully take my exercises at home as I had to take a break from PT for another month due to insurance reasons.

      Posted by pat parrish on 11/30/2016 10:51 PM

    • Why no answers to all these good questions!

      Posted by joanne on 12/2/2016 5:11 PM

    • I am beyond frustrated. I hope someone can help. I hurt my shoulder May 2015 working. I was seen by a doctor in the ER the night the injury occurred. Followed up with doctors in clinics affiliated with the hospital I worked at. Well my shoulder didn't seem to be improving so I was sent to see a surgeon. Treatment started with injections and therapy but still no improvement. I was then sent for MRI with contrast. It was determined I had a torn labrum (Slap tear) and it required surgery. So had surgery which my labrum was not repaired. All that was done was my bicep tendon was cut loose and reattached to my bicep bone. Still confused about that. Anyways started therapy which seemed to be going well. Then in September I fell at work reinjuried my shoulder. I had a MRI without contrast 4 or 5 days later. It was indicated I had a rotator cuff tear. Well the surgeon in which I was still under his care ordered another MRI with contrast. It showed changes to my rotator cuff but he said not enough to have to have surgery. I went through more therapy but developed frozen shoulder and ended up with a manipulation surgery in December. The doctor order therapy and followed it to T. Well I still had continued issues. Anyways I ended up being able to get a second opinion because the doctor I was seeing ended up releasing me with permanent lifting restrictions. So now I go to another physician and he orders an MRI without contrast results shows rotator cuff tear. He decides that surgery is needed. So we waited for approval by insurance adjuster and it finally came through. I had surgery today and the doctor says there was no tear. I nor my boyfriend never spoke with doctor today. Before nor after surgery. I get postoperative care and that is when we (my boyfriend and I) were informed he did not do the repair. He never came to speak to us even after the nurse called and asked him to. He finally agreed to speak to my boyfriend on the phone and said all he did was grind something off. My boyfriend wasn't not sure of what it was. All he was told was it gave the shoulder more space for it to be able to move better. So this to me sounds a little off and I am confused and so frustrated. Any opinion or advice would be appreciated.

      Posted by Teresa on 12/3/2016 7:02 AM

    • Very interesting. I tried to break a fall with my right arm and now have some shoulder pain 1.5 months later. No problem sleeping or with most use. Only certain movements that would resemble the arm use when I fall. I have not gone to a Dr yet. Now that this much time has passed, I suspect it is not going to heal without some help albeit surgery or PT. After reading the post and your responses, I think I will check out the exercises and gently move into that first. I wanted to do a triathlon again this year and am hesitant to hit the pool. But I will this weekend. I will find out if this hinders my stroke. I am not opposed to surgery as a necessity, but sure want to avoid it if I can. I want to thank all of you for posting. If you have any updates to your original posts, can you update for us all to see what has happened?

      Posted by Robin on 1/12/2017 4:30 PM

    • I have a subtle partial thickness tear of the articular surface of the supraspinatus tendon in my right shoulder and subacromial bursitis and bone edema in the ACJ acromion. Can you tell me what to do? Will it heal by itself? Or do I have to be like this for the rest of my life? My age is 26yrs. This happened due to an accident.

      Posted by Lincy Francis on 1/19/2017 10:28 AM

    • Hello everyone, I've been reading a lot about this issue after falling and possibly tearing my rotator cuff and suggest the following guidelines: If an injury caused a serious rotator cuff tear surgery within 6 weeks is your best option to resolve the issue. Time is important because if you delay too long then the tendon and muscle will atrophy making the repair more difficult. See: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/shoulder/rotator-cuff-tear-when-to-repair-and-when-to-smooth-and-move-the If you have a partial tear due to chronic use physical therapy is the best first option to strengthen the muscles and tendons, reduce the symptoms, and try to prevent worsening of the tear. Here’s a good strengthening program: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/PDFs/Rehab_Shoulder_5.pdf If the partial tear symptoms are not improved or the tear gets worse this new treatment looks very promising and is what I would pursue for a partial tear: http://rotationmedical.com/ If it gets worse surgery may be another option. There is 20% chance of healing of partial rotator cuff tears without treatment: 10% of rotator cuff partial tears heal completely on their own and 10% heal partially so there’s some chance you may need to either do physical therapy or get some type of treatment to recover: https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/the-facts-on-rotator-cuff-injuries-and-treatment The probability of a complete tear healing on its own is very low based on the articles I’ve read. If you have a complete tear shop around for a great doctor and read their Yelp reviews then get a second opinion.

      Posted by Nicholas Pratt on 1/22/2017 7:09 PM

    • Hi everyone, hope you can give an opinion on this PLEASE. I am based in New Zealand & I am felling very disillusioned about what to do. I am getting conflicting advice from different Dr's here about what i should do. I am a 34 year old male. I have received my MRI report and it reads; The right shoulder scan demonstrates a relatively large partial thickness articular surface tear of the anterior aspect of the footprint of the supraspinatus tear 5 x 8 x 3 mm with a few intact bursal surface fibres present. Mild right subacromial subdeltoid bursitis. If you had a patient like this would you recommend surgery or conservative treatment like physio etc.? I would appreciate any feedback on this matter please :) I don't suffer a lot of pain, only for certain overhead movements & throwing a ball hard will i experience loss of power & some pain. I may have had this injury for a while too and I am not sure if parts of my muscle may have atrophied. Thank you.

      Posted by Jacob on 6/4/2017 9:42 AM

    • Do not do surgery! Physical therapy will (slowly) fix it .

      Posted by Ross on 8/26/2017 9:05 PM

    • I had a MRI showing a subscapularis rotator cuff tear size 1x2.5 cm, and 50% thickness. Also showed Biceps Tendon Subluxation. This injured was a result of many years working with jewelry making, The surgeon said the only option was a surgical procedure, repairing the tear, but also cutting and reattaching the bicep tendon. He said physical therapy wouldn't help, and didn't want to give me a steroid shot. I decided to try an approach without surgery. I saw a chiropractor specialized with the Active Release Technique, and for two months he worked releasing all the scars. It was painful but I could regain some range of motion and some pain relief. After that I saw another chiropractor specialized in physical therapy and after three months of therapy the result was amazing. Then I saw another surgeon and he said after my evaluation I didn't need to have surgery at this moment, maybe I will need it in the future, but I was released continuing with exercises to maintain the shoulder stability and strength. I have been ten months with no pain. I have been practicing yoga, but I am careful of the exercises I can do. I know I have to be careful and I won't do anything that require lot of effort for my shoulder, but I am 55, so I am not trying to compete at the Olympics. I also complemented the therapies with diet, vitamins and massages. I am trilled with my results and back with my jewelry business, of course I take care of my body with good postures, using the right tools, exercises, good food and balanced life style. Hope this helps to others.

      Posted by Carlos P on 10/21/2017 10:27 AM

    • What he said ^^^^. Suffered a acute RC injury on left shoulder. It takes at least 6 months of PT to resolve a RC injury and you can do it yourself! For initial injury RICE applies. Afterwards you want to do some mobility exercises to get back the range of motion. Then start daily stretching exercises and finally strength training which is key. It takes work but you can make massive improvement over time. Dry needing helps speed the process too. If you don't know what to do search youtube for RC mobility, RC tear stretching and RC tear strength training. Finally there is no proof that surgery will benefit you any more than PT so give PT a chance first.

      Posted by Jim on 10/21/2017 4:15 PM

    • Where do I find answers to all these questions? For example I would like to know how one should heal a full thickness tear of the superspanatious which has retracted 5cm without surgery?

      Posted by Brian Simundic on 11/14/2017 1:28 PM

    • I have a torn rotator cuff (r) and my left was dislocated few years ago .both of my shoulders burn everyday. I'm tired and don't have time to go to physical therapy . I have kids that are disabled. I feel like they are basically making me punish myself due to the prolonged surgery. Two of my white friends both had theirs done. Not sure if its color or insurance. But I'm tired of being in pain. My question is , do I have to Go? I went once wasn't that enough? Signed ;Fix me I'm in pain

      Posted by Stephanie Blanchard on 11/25/2017 11:05 PM

    • That was so informative. I feel your genuine need to heal. Those stories were amazing even thoughI haven’t read them all try

      Posted by Dorothy Spisak on 12/19/2017 3:12 PM

    • Now recovering from my third rc surgery. They all worked out fin after long pt but glad i had it done ev.ery time. Very painful but worth it in the long run

      Posted by Jon brink on 2/5/2018 4:24 PM

    • I need some help with natural ways to relieve pain from arterial neuropathy. Thanks Nancy

      Posted by Nancy larusso on 2/6/2018 9:54 AM

    • Will the following diagnosis heal with PT? I have limited mobility and moderate pain, but I wonder if surgery will really make it 100%, or just a lot of pain to get to the same place...the worst part is my next and upper back muscles are in a continuous tight spasm state: "Full thickness, complete, retracted tear of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons 3.2 cm mediolateral x 3.2 cm anterior posterior; long head of biceps not visible and probably chronically torn and retracted. Labral degeneration present, mild arthrosis present, worst at acromioclavicular joint." 58 female and active until now.

      Posted by Mady M on 2/9/2018 10:36 PM

    • Worked for the telephone co for 38 years shoulder injuries many times. When I retired six years ago went to Doctors who did MRI and said both were torn. Said would do surgeries one year apart. When they said arm tied down for days and nine months of rehab I said no thanks. I hurt all the time but found my own rehab thru power yoga. I also coach High School wrestling. The doctors said with the surgeries I could not return to same life style or they would tear again in the same spot. Six years have passed and I still wrestle with 15-18 year olds and do power flow yoga. I use a horse liniment on my shoulders every day to ease the pain. I'm 66 still hurts but opting out of surgery was my best option. Yes it hurts. Move them or they will hurt worse.

      Posted by Thomas H Little III on 3/6/2018 3:42 PM

    • One doc. told me not to worry about my shoulder & do my other treatment for cancer. I told him I wanted to have some use of the shoulder. Then he said would you rather be a dead man with a good shoulder or cured with the meds they were going to give me. I had to change docs. I am doing pretty good & my shoulder is getting better.

      Posted by e. Collins on 3/15/2018 6:09 PM

    • Here are some good exercises: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program Hope it helps. I partially tore my right RC while trying to pull a very well tucked in blanket up over my shoulder while in a sleep stupor. I swim almost every day exclusively freestyle. It gets aggravated when I dive off the starting block or swing a golf club (once per year usually). It goes away but takes 2-3 months...

      Posted by David Mac on 3/25/2018 11:28 AM

    • 8 weeks ago I fell hard on my right shoulder. Two weeks later I had a scheduled appointment with my primary doctor. I told him I had fallen hard and was in a lot of pain. He recommended an MRI. It revealed 3 torn tendons in my rotator cuff and he booked an appointment with a surgeon 8 weeks later! In the mean time because of severe pain he put me on a combination pill of hydrocodone and acedamenophen 5-325 MG TAB MAL. The instructions were 1 tab every 12 hours. Because a whole one made me throw up I went to 1/2 tab every 6 hours and 2 Ibuprofen half way in between. The meds make me drowsy but control pain well enough to sleep and do some housework. I am 73. I can drive for short periods. I am not looking forward to surgery and would really rather try therapy. However my doctor said it was manditory and so did my son who is a nurse practicianer in orthopedics in a large hospital in Kansas City. He saw the MRI report. I would appreciate your opinion!

      Posted by Linda King on 5/20/2018 4:51 PM

    • I am told I have a full tear of the infraspinatus. However - I have no pain and I have excellent strength and range of motion. I saw a shoulder surgeon who told me he could fix the problem, but that I would be very unhappy with my life as a ballet dancer and teacher after shoulder surgery. He advised me to continue to strengthen and maintain my excellent range of motion and to just dance. He told me nothing would be gained by surgery and much would be lost. I appreciate his candor.

      Posted by Ruth on 6/11/2018 8:54 PM

    • What exercises can I do for my tear? The pain is at 9 out of 10 today. Was told by health doctor it was because of eating too much wheat which causes inflammation.

      Posted by Linda H on 6/13/2018 11:09 AM

    • There are some contradictory comments I've read about rotator cuff tears that I am looking for explanation on. It is said that a rotator cuff tear in most cases will slowly get larger with continued use of the arm. But it's also said that physical therapy is a great help when you have a tear as it strengthens the area around the tear. But doesn't PT also work the muscle with the tear as well? And wouldn't this use during PT contribute to the possible further tearing of the muscle? It's unclear why the activity during PT should touted when continued use of the arm can make the tear bigger. Please explain.

      Posted by Bill #Walter on 9/21/2018 2:46 PM

    • Injured my right shoulder pulling on a starter cord while on a ladder. Sure enough, MRI, doctors prognosis (2 by the way) it was determined I had a major RTC injury. Immediately went for physical therapy 3 times a week for over a month. Also, drank large amounts of tart cherry juice, took 1,000mg bromaline 2x a day, 1,000mg tumeric, and vitamin C. In 3 months I was playing golf, lifting plates to upper shelves, and totally pain free! That was over three years ago and I am so glad I didn't have the operation. Everyone I've spoken to wishes they hadn't. Took a year out of their active life and they still have some pain. I repeat, I on the other hand am totally pain free. My advise is don't have the operation, get aggressive physical therapy, and research on-line for numerous alternatives that for me worked 100%!

      Posted by Joe Paul on 9/27/2018 8:36 PM

    • I have a partial rotator cuff tear in three places. I am 64yoa and I have an autoimmune disease. In my teens and twenties I played tennis with great zeal. I choose PT and and accupuncture and supplements. Approach surgery with great caution. I understand it is very painful, pain meds dependency is another problem.

      Posted by Lorraine Girard on 10/11/2018 1:52 PM

    • Nonsurgical treatment works as follows: Stage one: 4 to 6 weeks of complete immobilization with either a cast or a sling to help you remember not to use the shoulder at all. This allows proper time to heal. This phase is known as R.I.C.E. Treatment - Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. During this phase, get at least 8-10hrs of sleep per night and eat healthy and get plenty of vitamin C. Also take magnesium sulfate baths daily to soothe and relax muscles. Sit or lay down most of the day. Focus on resting and healing. Use of daily ice and heat applications on shoulder are recommended to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. Also light massaging of shoulder recommended. Stage two: three weeks of gentle stretching and mobilization exercises designed specifically for rotator cuff. Search for these exercises and stretches on youtube. The goal here is to regain some range of motion, get things moving a bit, and begin to loosen up the shoulder. Applications of ice and heat, massaging, resting, and magnesium sulfate baths daily are still important to aid in the healing process. Stage three: three weeks of light exercises done daily, designed to let you stretch and flex your joint as far as possible (search youtube for rotator cuff strength training exercises). Applications of ice and heat, massaging, resting, and magnesium sulfate baths daily are still important to aid in the healing process. Stage four: 10 weeks of medium difficulty exercises done daily; goal to achieve full range of motion and begin to regain strength. Stage five: continue daily weight training for rotator cuff muscles, latissimus dorsi muscles, deltoids, trapezius muscles, and arm muscles. Idea here is to strengthen all supporting muscles for the shoulder and arms which will protect the rotator cuff muscles from future injuries and ensure long-term successful healing and recovery for years to come. If you choose the surgical route, still follow steps one thru five post surgery to ensure full successful recovery and restrengthening. I would not recommend the surgical route unless you first try the nonsurgical route and/or are confident that the tear is so bad that surgery is necessary. For example, the tendon has split completely in half with no hope of rejoining on its own. Beware of the fact that doctors will typically recommend surgery because they make big money that way so use some discretion.

      Posted by Larry on 10/28/2018 9:05 AM

    • I’m a 44 year old very active person that lives in Chicagoland Suburbs. I tore my rotator cuff (on the back side of my left shoulder) while trying to block a shot on playing basketball. Pain, lost range of motion and sleepless nights followed for the 10 days after injury. Felt like a 2.5 out of 10. 1st Orthopedic Surgeon I went said it was a high grade near full thickness tear... & would need surgery in the weeks/months ahead. Suggested PT while I decided surgery date so my shoulder would not freeze, it was in the days after my wife suggested a 2nd opinion. Went to Rush Orthopaedics locally and doc said No Surgery, to try 6 weeks of PT, gave me a shot of cortisone to numb some of the pain. Fast forward: Next week is last week of PT, I feel like a 7.5 so far, feel some random arthritic type stiffness but hoping that also improves. I have a follow up w 2nd doc in 2 weeks. Glad I opted for PT 3X per Week instead of knife. Aldo M.

      Posted by Aldo Marin on 12/16/2018 8:57 AM

    • Just finished 10 PT treatments for RCT full thickness tear and a partical thickness tear...have appointment with Orthopedic surgeon...NOT WANTING SURGERY; just have questions: Could PT possibly be causing more damage to my rotator cuff? Seems logical to expect a tear to become larger (more damaged) if you stretch or manipulate the damaged area: especially when deep massage is used.

      Posted by Becky Pritchett on 1/23/2019 8:50 PM

    • Thanks

      Posted by Ray upton on 2/8/2019 12:20 AM

    • I had a full rotator cuff surgery and detached bicep and an impingement.The tear occurred during a basketball game but was probably a result of the spur impingement over the years. I tried to heal it with PT and yoga ...little success. I had the surgery in Oct 2018 and now in March I was able to shoot 10 out of ten free throws....3 pointers are more difficult but I am only 6 months since the surgery. Glad I did the surgery now but it was a very hard recovery. I couldn't lift a fork to my mouth at the beginning. What helped is PT, Yoga and a daily stretching routine in a heated room. Listening to the body was key. I worked to make sure no stretch or exercise gave more than a 5 level pain. I know of no other basketball player that was able to come back from a full rotator cuff surgery except Kolbe Bryant for a short time.

      Posted by MARK on 3/30/2019 11:25 PM

    • I can vouch for that, the surgery was only 70% success rate, I chose physical therapy and I haven't really done any of it for years now but I did do it 3 times a day for maybe 5 years? Whenever my shoulder starts hurting I just do the exercise for a couple days and I'm good to go. And I work on heavy equipment 60 hours a week!

      Posted by PHILIP LOREN CARLSON on 6/15/2019 8:07 PM

    • I am 81 years old, and in severe pain with my rotator cuff. had cortison shots for awhile and helped,but not any more. i also have arthritis in the tear and in constant pain.the doctor said nothing would help except surgery and i am not a canidate for it. i tried pt for it a few years ago and it did not help. any ideas for me. thank you

      Posted by JoAnn Fair on 6/17/2019 7:14 AM

    • My shoulder has been hurting for two months after an aggressive pool workout. Therapy has helped for six weeks, but it still hurts. I do not want surgery. When I awake mornings I find that arm raised on my pillow with awful pain when I bring it down. I am not sure how to make it better.

      Posted by Margaret Jane Schmetzer on 7/25/2019 6:25 AM

    • It's really great to hear some real life stories of people with tendon related pain in the shoulder. Deciding to have surgery or not should not be made on the extent of imaging findings only as the level of abnormality does not equal the level of pain or disability. Every person needs to travel through a period of good physical therapy and the exercises posted here look as a good guide. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program. However proceed with only good physical therapy advice. There is good and bad physio. You need to stick with it for a while as expressed in a comment a few back for up to 6 months and don't expect perfection. Surgery will not allow you this either. It is not a holy grail of perfect 100 percent function. You will know if gains made at 6 months are good enough for you to stick with it for a further 6 months. Some really good long term results can be seen in Persisting on gold standard physical therapy in this conversation which should include advice on activities.

      Posted by Tommy Nguyen on 10/4/2019 7:21 PM

    • I am a 75 year old man who was playing tennis 4-5 times per week and was in excellent health until recently but now have extremely debilitating pain in my left shoulder blade to the extent that walking a short distance or driving my car a few blocks causes me great pain, and also can only sleep 4-5 hours a night. Was examined by an orthopedist who after looking at the x-ray, informed me that I have severe arthritis in a shoulder joint that is the source of the pain in the shoulder blade muscles. I was then advised that I most likely would need to undergo rotator cuff surgery to fix the problem. 1st step was to have an MRI scan done. However, due to the pain site location in the shoulder blade, the pain from lying on my back was torturous and there was no way that I could remain motionless for 30 minutes, the time required to complete the scan, so it was aborted after 10 minutes. The doctor then advised me that there was nothing she could do for me except administer pain medicine. I am now very depressed about this as unless my functionality significantly improves, my remaining life will be that of an invalid. Anyway, i’m praying the pain subsides and that I can then do PT and resume living normally even if resuming tennis is probably unlikely.

      Posted by Martin Gutherz on 10/11/2019 8:00 PM

    • After two surgeries I need help

      Posted by ed engs on 11/14/2019 5:16 PM

    • I had surgery on my right RTC (two full tears) and reattachment of my right bicep on 9/24/19. Just about 3 months out during recovery. Very painful and unable to get much sleep. I am taking OTC meds and doing some stretching exercises at home. Hopefully I will begin strengthening exercises by next week. About 3 weeks ago I was in a severe car accident and my left shoulder was injured Im in excruciating pain. I had an MRI scan and went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon who said I had three full tears with a 2.8 cm , a 1.8 cm and .5 cm retraction in those tendons respectfully. He said I should have surgery. He did not give me any cortisone shots in arm saying it will only damage and weaken the muscles and joint. I Do Not Want to go through surgery again. I'm still recovering from the first. I'm going for a 2nd opinion this week. Hopefully I can just do PT and get some cortisone shots to alleviate the pain for now. I had limited tort on my auto policy and the vehicle is old so there is not much I can do with the pain and suffering in as a result of this accident . I hope I can make a decision that allows me to keep my job, pay all the bills and alleviate this pain!!! So frustrated!!!!!

      Posted by Patrick Keeney on 12/13/2019 4:52 PM

    • I'm a 57 male with full rotater cuff tear.and there's no way I can get surgery.ive got huge responsibility at home.big problem is it's a workmen's comp thing

      Posted by Timothy Leahy on 1/16/2020 8:58 AM

    • I have a full thickness tear and partial tear RC in right shoulder. PT for 3 months. No pain at night. Just went to ortho doc who recommended surgery or I could continue PT and see if ROM changes in the next year. Should I push the PT exercises that cause pain?

      Posted by H Palmer on 1/24/2020 7:47 AM

    • Thanks for these articles. I do not have shoulder pain (thank goodness) but I still like to read your articles. I have heard that term: rotater cuff and had no idea where it was or what it does. I try to learn something new every day - and your article has put me several days ahead. :)

      Posted by JJ on 1/27/2020 2:07 PM

    • Hello guys I been suffering from a full rotator cuff tare for the past 5yrs.i lift daily in a produce 40lb to 60lb for 33yrs I tried the injection ,pt nothing helped long term I was I pain everyday and bursitis. Shoulder and neck painDid not sleep well at night. Well recently I did the surgery had a double rotator cuff fixed doing the pt now into my 2 week post opt. This surgery was so well worth it had a good ortho already helped my shoulder neck pain and bursitis I'm sleeping better . Wish I did it sooner .make sure to go to all of phycial thearpy appt. That's the secret to a speedy recovery.

      Posted by Liz fritz on 3/2/2020 1:29 AM

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