Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


Orthopedic Surgery


Dr. Elyse Watkins


Rotator cuff tears are a common cause of shoulder pain in older adults. This paper reviews the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of chronic symptomatic rotator cuff tears, with a specific focus on informing primary care providers about appropriate indications and timing of surgical referral as well as principles of conservative management. Initial treatment consists of conservative therapy with a combination of activity modification, pain management, physical therapy, and injections. Surgical repair is typically reserved for patients who fail rigorous conservative management or have acute on chronic rotator cuff tears with sudden loss of function. Further research is needed to determine which patient-specific and disease-specific factors predict a benefit to surgery.


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