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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ask A Doctor: I tore my rotator cuff playing tennis. What should I do to help it heal?

Question: I tore my rotator cuff playing tennis. What should I do to help it heal?


Rotator cuff tears are a common source of shoulder pain. Tears can result from sports such as tennis, or from a sudden, unnatural movement or fall.

Your doctor will want to first accurately diagnose the injury with a physical exam, X-ray or MRI.

There are varying degrees of rotator cuff injuries. Some can be treated non-surgically, while more serious cases may require an operation.

If you do not need surgery, the pain can be helped with plenty of rest and avoidance of activities which reproduce the pain. Reducing overhead arm movements and using a sling for a while may ease symptoms, along with taking over-the-counter or prescription medication to relieve pain and swelling.

If you're still feeling discomfort, your doctor may suggest an injection of corticosteroid medication, a safe and routine pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.

Surgery is recommended when other treatments have offered little to no improvement of your symptoms. Current surgical procedures for rotator cuff injuries can be less invasive than in the past. Following surgery, you can expect restricted arm movement for a few weeks and then use of an arm sling for about four to six weeks.

With or without surgery, physical therapy is very helpful in restoring strength and normal function. Taking time to properly recover initially and not rushing the process will actually help you heal faster and get you back out on the court in no time.

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