Your rotator cuff is located in your shoulder area. It is made of muscles and tendons. It helps your shoulder to move and stay stable. Problems with the rotator cuff are common. They include tendinitis, bursitis, and injuries such as tears.
Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed from frequent use or aging. Sometimes they are injured from a fall on an outstretched hand. Sports or jobs with repeated overhead motion can also damage the rotator cuff. Aging causes tendons to wear down, which can lead to a tear.
Some tears are not painful, but others can be very painful. Treatment for a torn rotator cuff depends on age, health, how severe the injury is, and how long you've had the torn rotator cuff.
Treatment for torn rotator cuff includes:
- Heat or cold to the sore area
- Medicines that reduce pain and swelling
- Electrical stimulation of muscles and nerves
- Cortisone injection
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease
Treatments and Therapies
- Cortisone Shots (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Rotator Cuff Tears: Surgical Treatment Options (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) - PDF
- Shoulder Arthroscopy (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) - PDF
- Shoulder Joint Replacement (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) - PDF
- Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears: A Guide for Adults (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) Available in Spanish
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Tear (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Shoulder Impingement/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) - PDF Available in Spanish
- Comprehensive Approach to Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: Options and Techniques (OR-Live) - Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, 09/19/2007
- Rotator Cuff Repair (OR-Live) - Doctors Hospital, Coral Gables, FL, 6/18/2008
- Shoulder Arthroscopy (OR-Live) - St. Francis Eastside Hospital, Greenville, SC, 07/10/2012
Statistics and Research
- Corticosteroid Injections Versus Manual Physical Therapy for Treatment of the Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (American College of Physicians) - PDF
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Rotator Cuff Lesions in Patients with Stiff Shoulders: A Prospective...
- Article: Long-term follow-up after latissimus dorsi transfer for irreparable posterosuperior rotator...
- Article: ACP journal club. In rotator cuff tears, primary tendon repair...
- Rotator Cuff Injuries -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Shoulder Impingement Treatment (American Academy of Pediatrics)