shoulder painA rotator cuff tear is a non-severe yet debilitating injury that may cause long-term symptoms if left untreated. It occurs when the tendons in the shoulder tear from injury or overuse. Despite not being life-threatening, rotator cuff tears should still be addressed immediately due to the debilitating effects of the injury.

Severe cases will usually call for surgery in order to repair the tear. Fortunately for minor and moderate cases, a non-invasive approach may be taken to alleviate symptoms and to treat the tear. Here, we’ll be discussing some of the options available for non-severe cases or for those uncomfortable with surgery. 

Effects of Rotator Cuff Tears

The symptoms of rotator cuff tears focus mostly on the mobility and feel of the shoulder. Consistent pain, lack of mobility, or a swollen shoulder could all point to the possibility of a rotator cuff tear. If unsure, it is best to get it checked by a professional. 

The effects of rotator cuff tears generally fall under the following:

  • Swelling: The area around the injury will more than likely be swollen. This is the most common symptom.

  • Chronic pain: Rotator cuff tears can be some of the most painful injuries you can suffer. Depending on the severity of the injury, the pain can range from tolerable to unbearable. This tear in the muscle will cause pain not just in the shoulder, but the whole arm. This pain is exacerbated when the shoulder is moved around or lay down on. Some describe the pain as a focused spot while others feel bursts throughout the length of the muscle.

  • Limited movement and stiffness: Having difficulty lifting your arm above shoulder height is one sign of a tear. If normal activities such as dressing up, driving, or brushing one’s teeth become difficult or painful, there is a possible tear.

  • Cracks and pops: There is a high chance of the shoulder making noises when moved around. Clicking, popping, and cracking are common signs of a tear.

Possible Treatments for Non-Severe Rotator Cuff Tears

Given the effects of rotator cuff tears, the best thing to do is to be proactive about the injury. Even if surgery is not required in your case, the more you delay treatment of the shoulder the higher the likelihood of a permanent impact on your mobility.

This is because the torn muscle, if left untreated, will start to pull back on itself given its current state. This will make it harder to treat the injury or in some cases be untreatable altogether.

For non-severe cases, the following are effective ways to treat the injury:

  • Rest and Recovery: Resting the injured shoulder is a good way to begin recuperating.

  • Immobilizing the Injured Shoulder: The use of a bandage and sling to help lessen the movement of the injured shoulder is the next step in most cases. This is to avoid adding more stress to the injury.

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapists are trained to address muscle problems in cases such as this. Through a variety of exercises and stretches, they can help strengthen the area around the muscle, relieve pain, and increase flexibility.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Nonsteroidal  Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are effective at reducing the swelling that happens in most cases. Examples are drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.


Rotator cuff tears are a debilitating injury that shouldn’t be left untreated. Fortunately, modern medicine has developed a better understanding of this injury, giving patients more to work with. This means that for non-severe cases, surgery can be avoidable. 

If you have hand or wrist injuries that need to be attended to, then you’ve come to the right place. North Florida Hand and Wrist Center offer the best care possible to alleviate any patients’ discomfort with their hands or wrists. If you are experiencing RSI problems in your hands and wrists and require a hand specialist in Jacksonville, contact us today!