While every case is unique, the questions you should ask the surgeon are not.
- What will happen if I just wait out the pain?
- If I try physical therapy first, am I hurting the chances of a positive outcome from surgery?
In The Bone & Joint Journal, January 2014, a study by lead author J. Kukkonen looked at patients who had an isolated rotator cuff tear at the supraspinatus tendon that started without a clear trauma or injury (i.e., a fall, a motor vehicle accident, etc.). This study was conducted by a group of physicians who were looking to support the superiority of surgical repair to physical therapy. To their surprise, at one year both the surgical and the physical therapy groups were the same in pain levels and function.
Several MRI studies have shown that 30-40% of rotator cuff tears do not result in symptoms of pain or weakness. However, tears can lead to a very painful shoulder–inflammation, inadequate range of motion , and poor strength. Whether or not your tear is symptomatic, it is not clear that either surgery or physical therapy results in better outcomes.
If you would like to try non-surgical intervention, whether physical therapy or simply rest, we at Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation can advise and treat you. We work closely with local orthopedic surgeons to understand in each case whether surgery is indicated, or if the more conservative intervention of physical therapy is recommended.
Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Bergen County region. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative program.