The treatment of rotator cuff disease depends on the severity of the injury to the tendons of the rotator cuff and the underlying condition of the patient.
Mild rotator cuff disease is treated with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen [Advil] and others). Generally, physical therapy using gradual exercise rehabilitation is instituted. Exercises are used that are specifically designed for rotator-cuff strengthening.
Patients with persistent pain and motion limitation can often benefit by a cortisone injection around the rotator cuff. Repeat injections may be necessary.
More severe rotator cuff disease can require surgical repair.
Subacromial decompression is the removal of a small portion of the bone (acromion) and soft tissues (bursa) that surround the rotator cuff. This removal can relieve pressure on the rotator cuff in certain conditions and promote healing and recovery. This procedure can be done by arthroscopic or open surgical techniques. Both methods have been reported to be equally successful.
The most severe rotator cuff disease, complete full-thickness rotator cuff tears, usually requires surgery for the best results. These procedures, which can also be done by either arthroscopy or open surgery, involve mending the torn rotator cuff by suturing the tissues back together. Ultimately, recovery from rotator cuff disease often requires extended physical therapy and rehabilitation.