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How to Heal Rotator Cuff Strain: The Best Treatment Options

Dec 09, 2019


If you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury, you might be worried that surgery is your only option. In fact, a qualified sports medicine doctor or specialized pain doctor can perform minimally invasive procedures that provide pain relief without the need for surgical interventions

Read on to find out more on how to heal rotator cuff strain.

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Physical Therapy

Early supervised activity is critical to avoid long term complications of rotator cuff strain. A qualified physician can send you to a physical therapy team that specializes in shoulder injuries and related conditions. Gentle stretching and strengthening can help heal rotator cuff strain and avoid future injury.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are beneficial in the period immediately following an injury. These medications reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.

Narcotic analgesics: In the past, narcotic analgesics were often used to manage the pain associated with rotator cuff injury. But narcotics cause dependence and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking them, so physicians try to avoid them if possible.

Steroid Injections: This is one of the better treatment options available to manage acute and chronic rotator cuff strains. It involves injecting steroids into the tendon of your shoulder joint to reduce the swelling and inflammation. These injections provide relief from pain and swelling and improve the mobility of the affected shoulder. Steroid injections are non-invasive and do not cause dependence. They provide an effective alternative for surgery.

Plasma replacement procedures: Plasma replacement, also known as PRP therapy, is a new technology for joint injuries. This method involves injecting you with your own blood platelets and growth factors. Anesthetics are used to numb the site of administration so you won’t feel a thing. PRP will start a repair process where stem cells are stimulated to initiate natural healing.

Surgery: While surgery is one of the alternatives for managing rotator cuff injury, it may not provide an effective solution since the affected muscles may already be weak. It’s quite possible that surgery may even worsen the tissue injury – picture sewing together bits of torn toilet paper; okay, not a good idea. The healing process also takes longer with this option and there is the risk of infection as well.

The approach your doctor uses will depend on several factors like the severity of the damage, the cause, and whether it’s an acute or chronic condition.

You now have a fair idea on how to heal rotator cuff strain. The next question to address is where to go to manage your injury and give you the best possible outcome.

What Kind of Doctor Specializes in Healing Rotator Cuff Strain

You wouldn’t go to a gynecologist if you had a toothache, would you? I sure hope not!

Likewise, if you have pain due to muscle or joint injuries, you should see a qualified pain doctor for expert diagnosis and treatment. Your best bet, therefore, would be to visit a pain treatment clinic.

This kind of clinic has a wide range of specialist services that provide a holistic approach to soft tissue injury management.

At pain treatment specialists, we are a team of pain doctors New jersey and pain doctors New York that specialize in using the most up-to-date, non-invasive procedures to treat acute and chronic muscle injury. Our pain team consists of:

  • Ultrasonographers who diagnose the cause of the pain as well as the severity of the injury.
  • Pain specialists that manage the pain and tissue injury.
  • Patient care specialists

You will also get expert advice on the correct lifting posture as well as stretching exercises that can help reduce the risk of a repeat occurrence of rotator cuff strain.

With our combined team effort dedicated to making you well again, you can finally say goodbye to acute or chronic pain from shoulder joint injury.

If you are looking for a pain specialist NJ or a pain doctor NY, let our team of doctors take care of your soft tissue injury.

Okay, so now you know what to do and where to go;  how urgently do you think your pain needs medical attention?

How important is Getting immediate treatment for Shoulder joint pain?

It is very important to get to a specialist as soon as you suspect you have rotator cuff strain, for all the reasons below:

  • There is a possibility that if you allow the muscles to heal without medical intervention, you may never regain full use of that arm. If you are a professional sportsman or a manual laborer, think of how this would impact on your source of livelihood
  • Also, having a tear in one arm actually increases the risk of getting a tear in the other.
  • The muscle damage may worsen if left untreated and you may experience debilitating pain or the shoulder may become stiff and immobile as a result. You may not be a sportsman, but you definitely need your shoulders to perform a lot of your daily activities.


If you’re searching for a “back doctor in NYC” or are unsure of what type of doctor do I see for back pain, look for pain doctors that offer back pain treatments in NYC that do not resort to surgery or narcotics to treat chronic pain.

What in the world is a Rotator cuff?

Good question! It would be nice for you to have an idea of the exact location of the injury in your shoulder and what may have caused it.

The Rotator cuff is simply a group of four muscles and several tendons that surround the head of the humerus (the long bone of your arm).

  • Subscapularis: It’s the muscle that holds your humerus to your shoulder blade and enables you to rotate your arm in different ways.
  • This muscle holds your upper arm in place and keeps it stable. It helps with lifting your arm.
  • This is the major muscle that lets you rotate your arm through 360 and extend your shoulder.
  • Teres Minor. Its main function is to assist with moving the arm away from the body. It is also the smallest of the rotator cuff muscles

These muscles and tendons make it possible for you to do everything you need to do with your arms!

Injury to the rotator cuff may be acute, caused by sudden activity or trauma; or chronic, due to age-related degeneration or wear and tear from constant use.

Whatever the nature of the injury, expert attention is required to diagnose the situation, manage the symptoms and fast track the repair of the damaged tissues.

How do you know if the pain in your shoulder is from Rotator cuff injury?

Let’s backtrack a little bit. The first time you noticed this pain in your shoulder, were you trying to lift or swing something, above your head level? Uh-huh!

Have you also noticed some of the following signs?

  • Shoulder joint pain or arm ache that worsens when you sleep at night.
  • Pain in one or both upper limbs that wakes you up from sleep.
  • Swelling and tenderness in your shoulder region.
  • The stiffness of your shoulder joint.
  • You are unable to bend your arm backward.
  • Popping or cracking noises when you move your arm.
  • Gradual loss of mobility in one or both shoulders.

If your answer is yes, then you are most likely experiencing a Rotator cuff strain. Of course, you know the next step to take – Head to a pain doctor as soon as possible to diagnose the kind of Rotator cuff strain and help you treat to heal.

There are four major kinds of rotator cuff injuries with different treatment options. This is why you need expert management  to diagnose the type of strain and give the appropriate treatment.

  • Rotator cuff tears. This could be due to sudden trauma like when you lift a heavy object or some nasty fellow rams into your shoulder. It could also occur as a result of normal wear and tear of your shoulder joint tissues due to aging or constant use.
  • Impingement. This is also known as swimmer’s shoulder. It is a condition which affects the shoulder bursa, padding located between the rotator cuff and the acromion (the shoulder bone on which the muscles rest). An upward movement of your arm causes the gap between the rotator cuff and the acromion to narrow. If the tendons in your rotator cuff get pinched in this thin gap, the bursa and tendons can then become swollen and irritated.
  • Tendinitis. Its a painful swelling of the tendon, a thick cord that attaches your bones to muscle. Tendinitis is usually an acute condition and could be caused by trauma or sports activities.
  • Bursitis: Acute inflammation of the fluid-filled padding(bursa) that protects your humerus( remember that long bone in your arm) from rubbing against your shoulder joint. If it gets irritated, usually as a result of repetitive use, then the result is pain and swelling in your shoulder.

What are the most common causes of Rotator cuff strain?

  1. Age-Related Degeneration:
  • As you get older, the risks of experiencing strain to your shoulder muscle increase- the natural law of wear and tear.
  • Arthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints could also cause wear and tear of the shoulder joints. These degenerative diseases cause breakdown of the soft tissues in your shoulder and cause the bones to rub together.
  1. Activity-Related Degeneration

Athletes and manual laborers, by virtue of their daily activities, are more prone to rotator cuff strain than other people. The common activities that result in acute strain to the rotator cuff tissues include:

  • Activities that involve repeated use of the shoulders for upward and outward movements: swimming, tennis, basketball, and weightlifting.
  • Activities that require constant lifting of objects above your head level.
  • Constantly sleeping on one arm or shoulder
  • Incorrect posture when lifting heavy objects
  1. Trauma

Physical trauma to your upper limbs like a heavy blow or someone yanking you up forcibly, or falling on your arm or shoulder

Whatever the kind of Rotator cuff injury you have, whatever the cause and no matter how severe the symptoms, it is completely treatable.

With expert care, the damage to your soft tissues can be reversed and you can regain full use of your arm in no time.

Meet our

Board Certified Team


Meet our Board Certified team

pain management doctors
pain doctor near me

Hanna MD

Double Board Certified
Director of Pain Management
Harvard Medical School
Dr. George Hanna is a nationally recognized pain management specialist and Double Board Certified in anesthesiology and pain management medicine. Dr. Hanna is currently available at Pain Treatment Specialists in Manhattan. He is now accepting most major medical insurances, including Medicare.

Nguyen MD

Triple Board Certified
Harvard Medical SChool
Dr. Michael Nguyen is world renowned in Pain Medicine. Dr. Nguyen completed his residency and advanced Pain fellowship training at Harvard Medical School. During his tenure at Harvard, Dr. Nguyen was awarded the “Mentor of the Year” and also “Teacher of the Year” award. After finishing at Harvard, Dr. Michael Nguyen taught for two years at Harvard – training new graduates on the latest modern advances in interventional pain management for multiple pain ailments.
How to Heal Rotator Cuff Strain: The Best Treatment Options ultima modifica: 2019-12-08T20:31:05-05:00 da JJ Madrigal