Surgery vs Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries: Ask a Therapist


Do you need surgery for rotator cuff injuries?

In this video, Rafael Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L from ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness shares insights from the research about treatment options for rotator cuff injuries.

If you have shoulder pain, you’re not alone. In fact, shoulder pain ranks just behind low back pain for the reason people seek medical care. And, among people experiencing shoulder pain, roughly 7/10 of them experience shoulder pain because of a rotator cuff injury.

Now, there’s no one “cure-all” treatment out there for any joint problem, shoulders included. However, the research does point to some basic principles that hold true. As I mention in this video, the research supports active treatments such as movement and exercise for positive long-term outcomes.

You may need some kind of passive treatment initially —like surgery, injections, or manual therapy— however, for long-term benefits, you need to back those passive treatments up with active treatment techniques.

The research also shows that, even if you have a rotator cuff tear, conservative treatment options (like physical and occupational therapy) should be considered the first-line treatment options.

Read our article on Rotator Cuff Treatment Options here:

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References from this video:
[1] Piper CC, Hughes AJ, Ma Y, Wang H, Neviaser AS. Operative versus nonoperative treatment for the management of full-thickness rotator cuff tears: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2018 Mar;27(3):572-576. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.09.032. Epub 2017 Nov 21. PMID: 29169957.
[2] Longo, U.G., Risi Ambrogioni, L., Candela, V. et al. Conservative versus surgical management for patients with rotator cuff tears: a systematic review and META- analysis.BMC Musculoskelet Disord 22, 50 (2021).
[3] Ryösä A, Laimi K, Äärimaa V, Lehtimäki K, Kukkonen J, Saltychev M. Surgery or conservative treatment for rotator cuff tear: a meta-analysis. Disabil Rehabil. 2017 Jul;39(14):1357-1363. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1198431. Epub 2016 Jul 6. PMID: 27385156.
[4] Kendrick DB, Strout TD. The minimum clinically significant difference in patient-assigned numeric scores for pain. Am J Emerg Med. 2005 Nov;23(7):828-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2005.07.009. PMID: 16291435.

#shoulderpain #rotatorcuff #physiotherapy #physicaltherapy #occupationaltherapy #proactiverehabilitation


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