How Long Does It Take For A Torn Rotator Cuff To Heal On Its Own?

What is the rotator cuff and what does it do?

The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that join as tendons to form a “cuff” over the humerus’ head (upper arm bone). The scapula gives rise to four muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor (shoulder blade). The greater and lesser tuberosities are special spots on the head of the humerus where the rotator cuff tendons join.

The rotator cuff aids in the lifting and rotation of the arm as well as the stabilization of the shoulder’s ball inside the joint.

What causes a rotator cuff tear and how would I know if I have one?

A rotator cuff tear may occur as a result of an acute injury, such as a fall, or as a result of normal age-related wear and tear, such as tendon degeneration.

Pain in the front of your shoulder that radiates down the side of your arm is the most common symptom. It’s possible that it’ll show up during overhead tasks like lifting or reaching. When you try to sleep on the affected side, you can experience pain. You may notice arm weakness and difficulty performing everyday tasks such as combing your hair or reaching behind your back.

You can feel intense pain, a snapping sensation, and immediate arm weakness if the tear occurs as a result of an injury.

If I have a painful rotator cuff and keep using it, will this cause further damage?

Over time, a rotator cuff tear may lengthen or widen. This can happen as a result of repeated use or a re-injury. Following a minor injury, patients with known rotator cuff disease often experience acute pain and weakness. This is most likely an extension of an existing tear.

If you already have a rotator cuff tear, worsening pain and loss of strength may indicate that the tear is getting worse.

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy Treatment

When a rotator cuff injury occurs suddenly, it is always possible to treat it at home. Treatment options include:

  • Over-the-counter medicine. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are anti-inflammatory pain relievers that can help alleviate shoulder pain.
  • Rest. Every physical activity that induces or aggravates the shoulder pain must be avoided.
  • Ice. Swelling and discomfort can be reduced by the use of a cold compress. Every few hours, use for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Heat. You should use a heating pad to relieve any discomfort in your shoulder until the pain has subsided.
  • Stretching. To make your shoulder more stable, your doctor will prescribe regular exercises that you can do at home. It could be beneficial to do these in a hot tub.

A traumatic rotator cuff usually heals in two to four weeks. However, if the injury is serious or if it is a chronic wear injury, it can take months to recover. If the pain is interfering with your daily activities or you injure yourself again, your doctor can recommend:

  • Steroids. Soreness in the shoulder joint can be relieved with a shot injected into the joint.
  • Physical therapy. Your personal trainer will lead you through exercises to help you recover shoulder strength and motion.
  • Surgery. This is unusual. Surgery is a last resort for rotator cuff tears unless you’re young and have had an acute, traumatic shoulder injury.

Are You Looking for Shoulder Pain Relief? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical shoulder pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Physical therapy, without the need for harmful drugs or unnecessary surgery, is a safe, simple and convenient way to find relief from shoulder pain. A variety of problems resulting in shoulder pain have been treated by our physical therapists, with patients experiencing progress and relief after just a few short sessions, and even fewer! We will develop a specialized mix of physical therapy approaches to treat and alleviate your pain once we have identified the source of your shoulder pain. Gentle manual therapy helps to restore natural joint mobility, relieve constraints on soft tissue, and facilitate circulation while restoring strength and the proper sequence of muscle activation around the shoulder joint through precise therapeutic exercises. Finally, we teach you strategies to strengthen your power and to stop the recurrence of future shoulder problems. Don’t let your pain in your shoulder hinder your physical skills any longer! Our physical therapy practice in San Jose, CA, will give you the support you need to once again start living your regular life. To schedule your appointment and get started on your journey towards pain relief, contact Pace Physical Therapy today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!