Surgery or Physiotherapy: The Correct Approach to Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears

Doctor helps woman by shoulder treatment with kinesio tape

What is the rotator cuff of the shoulder?

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that originate from the shoulder blade. These muscles are important in that they create shoulder stability and allow us to conduct different shoulder movements. Tears of the muscles associated with the rotator cuff are common and are not always due to trauma. Sometimes rotator cuff musculature injury is due to gradual wear and tear throughout an individual’s life span.

How should a shoulder rotator cuff tear be treated to maximise strength and movement?

To answer this question, it is often best to turn to clinical guidelines. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that tears of the rotator cuff should initially be managed with physiotherapy. As it concerns the shoulder, the goal of physiotherapy will be to improve range of motion, strength and define management strategies to prevent pain and disability. 

With the correct tailormade physiotherapy intervention program, the MOON study in the United States determined that at a follow-up period of two years, 75% of patients were able to avoid shoulder surgery due to an improved functional outcome. 

To see whether physiotherapy or surgery is best for your particular case it is best to consult your doctor.