Rotator Cuff Tears: 5 Surgery-Free Solutions

Rotator cuff tears can be inconvenient, painful, and aggravating. For severe tears, surgery may be the only option to decrease your pain and restore full mobility in the shoulder joint. However, for small tears, you may be able to take advantage of non-surgical solutions.

At Mountain Spine & Pain Physicians in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Brian Fuller has a range of conservative treatments that can help your body heal from a mild rotator cuff tear and manage shoulder pain without resorting to surgery.

Rotator cuff basics

Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles and tendons that work together to stabilize your shoulder. This allows you to lift, lower, and rotate your arm at the shoulder joint. If damage is done to any of the four parts, it can cause pain and immobility.

A severe rotator cuff tear that rips apart a tendon or pulls the tendon completely away from the bone can happen due to an accident or a sports injury, and may require shoulder surgery or even a shoulder replacement to resolve. 

However, overuse injuries often cause a small tear in one of the muscles of the rotator cuff. These types of injuries can often be treated more conservatively.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear

You might have some of these symptoms after a rotator cuff tear:

  • Dull aching pain in the shoulder, particularly if you raise your arm or lie on that side
  • Weakness in your shoulder and trouble lifting things or reaching behind you
  • Clicking and popping sounds in your shoulder when you lift or rotate your arm

Treating a rotator cuff tear without surgery

There are five main ways to treat a rotator cuff tear without resorting to surgery:

  1. Immobilization: Keeping a joint perfectly still and supported with a special brace can help aid in healing.
  2. Physical therapy: Specialized exercises can help improve range of motion and allow your body to heal properly.
  3. Shoulder injections: Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and pain while your shoulder heals.
  4. Stem cell therapy: Stem cells injected into the joint can kickstart the regeneration process and increase fibrocartilage formation.
  5. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: Your own blood can be centrifuged to concentrate platelets, and the PRP injected into the shoulder joint to boost your body’s healing ability.

Dr. Fuller can examine your shoulder and order scans to determine the extent of the damage and recommend the least invasive treatment option possible. He will focus on restoring mobility and decreasing your pain.

If you need more information about conservative treatment for rotator cuff tears, please contact our office at 303-355-3700. You can also use our scheduling tool to book a consultation with Dr. Fuller to discuss your shoulder pain in our Denver, Colorado office. 

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