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Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • You can often treat a rotator cuff tear at home with rest, ice, and ibuprofen.
  • Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help with shoulder mobility.
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • Your shoulder pain and weakness get worse.
  • You have numbness or weakness in the arm, hand, or wrist.
  • Your symptoms do not improve after 6–8 weeks of home treatment.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Go to the ER if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Severe shoulder pain
  • Sudden inability to move the shoulder or arm with numbness
  • Pain, redness, fever, and severe pain in the shoulder

The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.

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All treatments for rotator cuff tear
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Read more about rotator cuff tear care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should see a healthcare provider if you have severe pain or weakness when lifting the arm or you can’t move the arm after an injury. These may be signs of a more serious tear or another injury, like a pinched nerve.

If your symptoms are milder but are not improving after 6–8 weeks of at-home treatments, you should also see a provider.

Getting diagnosed

Your provider may base a diagnosis on your symptoms and a physical exam. You may need X-rays of the shoulder to check for arthritis or bone issues. In some cases, a shoulder MRI may help confirm the diagnosis and severity of a rotator cuff tear.

What to expect from your visit

  • Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the shoulder.
  • NSAIDs may be prescribed to help with pain and inflammation.
  • Your provider may offer to do a cortisone injection into the shoulder to relieve pain.
  • While rare, surgery may be needed for large rotator cuff tears or tears that don’t get better after 6-8 weeks of non-surgical treatment.

Prescription rotator cuff tear medications

  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Nabumetone (Relafen)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)

Types of providers who treat rotator cuff tears

  • A primary care provider can treat mild to moderate symptoms.
  • An orthopedic specialist who treats muscle, bone, and joint problems may be needed for severe injuries or if your pain doesn’t get better with home treatments.
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Frequently asked questions