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Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff helps stabilize your shoulder joint and allows you to raise and rotate your arm. There are four rotator cuff tendons in each shoulder that attach the rotator cuff muscles to the top of the arm bone (humerus) and help the shoulder move. These tendons are prone to full and partial tears due to wear and tear, such as from tendonitis or injury, including sports injuries.


Rotator Cuff Repair: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

  • We use advanced imaging techniques to rule out other conditions that may mimic a torn rotator cuff, such as frozen shoulder.
  • Our team of shoulder surgeons is skilled in shoulder arthroscopy (minimally invasive shoulder surgery) and participates in several clinical trials to explore new approaches to treatment.
  • Our shoulder specialists are experienced in treating patients with failed rotator cuff repairs and other complex cases.
  • Whether you tore your rotator cuff while playing baseball or helping a friend move, our specialists are here to help. Athletes can also take advantage of our sports medicine program.  
  • If surgery is needed, we offer high-quality medical care and comprehensive post-surgery monitoring to help you get back to your former lifestyle. 

Torn Rotator Cuff Repair Options

In some cases, surgery can be used to reattach the torn tendon. The two popular surgical methods include an open surgery and a minimally invasive procedure called shoulder arthroscopy that uses smaller incisions. Consult with one of our shoulder specialists to discuss which surgery may be the best fit for you rotator cuff tear.

However, not all rotator cuff tears need surgery. Even if the tendon is fully torn, some people may maintain a comfortable range of motion in the shoulder. For partial rotator cuff tears that cause pain or reduce function of the shoulder, the following nonsurgical treatments can be used:

  • Physical therapy and exercises to prevent stiffness
  • Ice treatment to reduce pain
  • Medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
  • Activity modification to prevent worsening of the tear

Considerations for Rotator Cuff Surgery

Although rotator cuff surgery can reattach the torn tendon, there is no guarantee that the tendon will fully heal. Many things, such as your age and the size and location of the tear, need to be carefully considered before deciding whether to choose surgical repair. If the tendon is already heavily worn, it may be at risk of tearing again after the surgery. For patients who have arthritis of the shoulder in addition to the rotator cuff tear, shoulder replacement could be another option.

Request an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists to find out which treatment approach will work best for you.

Rotator Cuff Injuries | Q&A with Dr. Uma Srikumaran

Orthopaedic surgeon Uma Srikumaran, M.D., describes types of rotator cuff injuries and the surgical and non-surgical treatment options.


Our Team of Shoulder Specialists

You can rely on the experience and expertise of our shoulder specialists, who have helped numerous patients with rotator cuff tears.

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