Your provider will take your complete health history and conduct a physical exam, and you may also need diagnostic tests, such as:
- X-ray. Will not show a rotator cuff tear, but will help your provider rule out bone spurs and other conditions.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound. Gives very detailed images of your shoulder joint structures.
Based on this, your provider will develop the right treatment plan for your injury and lifestyle.
For the majority of our patients, nonsurgical treatment successfully relieves pain and improves function, which may include:
- Activity modification. You may need to avoid certain activities, especially anything overhead.
- Corticosteroid injection. Cortisone can be a very effective anti-inflammatory medicine in some cases, injected directly into the injured tendon.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce pain and swelling.
- Rest. Your provider may prescribe a sling to help keep your shoulder still.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to improve flexibility, restore range of motion and strengthen your shoulder.
Your doctor may recommend surgical treatment based on your diagnosis, or if nonsurgical methods aren’t adequately relieving your pain. UCHealth specialists have deep experience in any procedure you might need, including:
- Arthroscopy. Your surgeon inserts a thin tube fitted with an HD camera and surgical tools, called an arthroscope, through a tiny incision(s) and reattaches the torn tendon to the bone.
- Open tendon repair. Your surgeon makes a large incision and reattaches the damaged tendon to the bone through traditional methods.
- Shoulder replacement, or shoulder arthroplasty. Serious rotator cuff injuries may require a replacement with an artificial joint.
- Tendon transfer. Your surgeon may decide to replace a seriously damaged tendon with a nearby tendon.