Rotator Cuff Disease

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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What is the treatment for rotator cuff disease?

The treatment of rotator cuff disease depends on the severity of the injury to the tendons of the rotator cuff and the underlying condition of the patient.

Mild rotator cuff disease is treated with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin] and others). Generally, physical therapy using gradual exercise rehabilitation is instituted. Exercises are used that are specifically designed for rotator-cuff strengthening.

Patients with persistent pain and motion limitation can often benefit by a cortisone injection around the rotator cuff. Repeat injections may be necessary.

More severe rotator cuff disease can require surgical repair.

Subacromial decompression is the removal of a small portion of the bone (acromion) and soft tissues (bursa) that surround the rotator cuff. This removal can relieve pressure on the rotator cuff in certain conditions and promote healing and recovery. This procedure can be done by arthroscopic or open surgical techniques. Both methods have been reported to be equally successful.

The most severe rotator cuff disease, complete full-thickness rotator cuff tears, usually requires surgery for the best results. These procedures, which can also be done by either arthroscopy or open surgery, involve mending the torn rotator cuff by suturing the tissues back together. Ultimately, recovery from rotator cuff disease often requires extended physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2015

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  • Rotator Cuff - Injury

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  • Rotator Cuff - Cause

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  • Rotator Cuff Disease - Symptoms

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  • Rotator Cuff Disease - Treatment and Exercise

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