Diagnosis

Doctor will perform physical examination to see any signs of injury, these includes performing specific test, strength test and checking the range of motion of the shoulder. Furthermore, these investigations may also be recommended:

  • X-rays. Detects any fractured bone or other factors causing pain but it cannot show the rotator cuff tear.
  • Ultrasound. Shows images of the soft tissues and tendons by using sound waves.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Views overall shoulder structures in a higher definition using sound waves and a strong magnetic field.

Treatment

The symptoms can usually resolve on its own in some people by conservative treatment such as resting the affected area, cold compression and physical rehabilitation or exercises. But, if the damage is extreme, surgery may be indicated.

Injections

Steroid injection may be indicated to reduce the shoulder pain if conservative treatment fails. Moreover, the use of this injection should be use only short term because it can weaken the tendon and can stop the progress of the surgical procedure later on.

Physical Therapy

Initial treatment for rotator cuff injury is a customized physical therapy to assist in regaining the shoulder’s muscle strength and range of motion.

Surgery

Various type of surgical interventions are available, such as:

  • Arthroscopic tendon repair. Reconnects the tendon to the bone which is done arthroscopically (using a tiny tube with a camera) by creating a tiny incision around the shoulder.
  • Open tendon repair. A larger incision is done to repair the damage and reconnects the tendon to the bone which is a better option in some case.
  • Tendon transfer. A nearby tendon can be utilized if the damage to the tendon is too vast and it is impossible to connect it to the bone.
  • Shoulder replacement. An artificial joint replaces the widely damaged rotator cuff. This procedure is also called a reverse shoulder arthroplasty to stabilize the shoulder.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Try to rest and avoid using your shoulder from strenuous activities which can increase stress to your rotator cuff. Home remedies may include taking over-the-counter pain-relief medications (e.g. ibuprofen or acetaminophen) and cold compression. In most cases, people can manage the symptoms of rotator cuff injury together with physical rehabilitation which will improve muscle strength and range of motion.