Rotator cuff tears are a very common injury, and the common remedy for this injury is the rotator cuff repair surgery. However, this question that is been increasingly more controversial- Is surgery necessary for rotator cuff tears?
Though sometimes surgery is recommended for these tears, rotator cuff repair surgeries have shown to have failed success rates anywhere between 25% to 90% in actually healing and repairing the muscle properly.
The Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery examined the question “Can physical therapy for rotator cuff tears prevent the need for surgery?”. The study included 381 patients who had rotator cuff tears and ranged from ages 31 to 90. The patients went through 6 to 12 weeks of physical therapy treatments that included strength training and soft tissue/ joint mobilizations.
By the end of the study, approximately 75% of the patients did not need rotator cuff surgery after their physical therapy treatments.
For the patients who still should seek surgery to repair their shoulder, it is still important for everyone to first go through physical therapy because it will also increase the effectiveness of the post surgery recovery.
What does Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tears focus on?
Restoring the shoulder’s mobility. Physical therapy treatments will give the patient exercises to increase the shoulder strength and dynamic stability. With a tear, rotating the shoulder is very difficult and will need a lot of special treatments.
Reducing the Kinetic Chain impact. The kinetic chain is something that directly impacts the function of the shoulder. This chain includes the scapulothoracic joint, thoracic spine, cervical spine and lumbopelvic complex. When these areas are not functioning properly, they will deter the shoulder from proper alignment and mobility.
The study of the benefits of physical therapy has become increasingly more popular as new ways are found to avoid surgery and restore a person’s full physical functioning.