Treatment for a Torn Tendon in the Shoulder

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint. Rotator cuff tears usually result from chronic tendon degeneration due to aging. Most tears can be managed with nonsurgical options, such as physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and, sometimes, injections. You and your doctor may agree surgical repair is the best option if appropriate treatments do not relieve your symptoms.

There are many surgical options for rotator cuff tears. The specific type of surgery will be recommended by your doctor. Surgery may involve repair of the tendon, debridement of the tear, reconstruction, or in some cases joint replacement.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

You may elect to have a rotator cuff repair if:

  • You are limited in your ability to perform normal activities because of a tendon tear.
  • Symptoms persist despite appropriate nonsurgical treatments and physical therapy.
  • A recent injury caused the tear.
  • You have significant weakness and pain in your shoulder.

Your doctor will make a treatment recommendation by taking your medical history and performing a physical exam. You may also need X-rays and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Your treatment may include one of the following types of rotator cuff repair surgery:

  • Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure with small incisions using a camera
  • Mini-open repair, a procedure that combines arthroscopy with an open repair
  • Open repair, a procedure with surgical incisions

After recovering from a rotator cuff repair, most patients have improved shoulder strength and less pain. Rehabilitation can affect the outcomes of this procedure. Your doctor will provide specific instructions for physical therapy after your surgery.

Matches Found

Our Experts in Orthopaedic Care

Orthopaedics is proud to be a leader in the care of patients with disorders of the bones, joints and spine. Our faculty, clinicians, and researchers have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, ranking as one of the best hospitals in the nation for in orthopaedic care.

Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopaedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Penn State Health orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. We focus on providing you with tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies to produce the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional areas of orthopaedics and sports medicine.

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in the Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing their field through scientific discovery and education. As the only locally based academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

Learn more about support groups offered

Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

Find a location near you