Can Physiotherapy Help Avoid Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery?

The shoulder requires alot of mobility to function which can make it unstable and prone to injuries. Overtime, this amount of mobility can lead to muscle and tendon injuries named rotator cuff tears.

Rotator cuff tears are common and thousands of surgeries are performed to repair them every year. Despite emerging techniques, many of these surgeries continue to have high failure rates and although many factors are associated with these rates, rehabilitation has been advocated as a first line of defense by many to avoid surgery.

Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Tears

A recent study published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery looked at the effectiveness of physiotherapy in treating rotator cuff tears. The study was performed by the MOON Shoulder Group, a group of prestigious orthopedic surgeons and research personnel from around the U.S.

The study followed over 400 patients with rotator cuff tears that were undergoing physiotherapy to see if rehabilitation alone could help people reduce pain and return to function.

After 12 weeks, only 26 % of people elected to undergo surgery based on their symptoms and function. The study followed patients for 2 years, which meant most patients were able to carry on with their lives normally and did not need surgery down the road.

74% of patients with rotator cuff tears were able to avoid surgery by performing physiotherapy

Another recent study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery looked at physiotherapy for rotator cuff tears in patients that did not have sugery. In this study, patients were followed for 13 years and found that 90% of the patients had no or only slight pain in their shoulder.

In all, what a difference physiotherapy can make in avoiding surgery and saving the patient pain, time and money…never mind the stress on family and the health care costs associated with the surgical process.

So remember: a properly designed physiotherapy program, which includes emphasis on restoring range of motion, enhancing muscle imbalances, and improving stability of the shoulder joint can help many people avoid rotator cuff repair surgery.