Rotator cuff tear is a common injury that occurs when the tendons or muscles of the rotator cuff are damaged, causing pain, weakness and a limited range of motion. This injury can occur due to trauma, repetitive use, or degeneration over time.

It is essential to treat rotator cuff tears as they can lead to chronic pain and weakness in the shoulder, which can affect daily activities and quality of life. If left untreated, the tear can worsen and require more invasive torn rotator cuff treatment, such as surgery.

There are non-surgical options available for treating rotator cuff tears. These options include rest, ice, and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion.

Pain medication and corticosteroid injections may also manage pain and inflammation. This article will discuss the non-surgical options for rotator cuff tear treatment. So, without further ado, let’s discuss the non-surgical and alternative treatment methods to treat rotator cuff tears.

Non-Surgical Options for Treating Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury that affects many individuals. While surgery is often an option, there are non-surgical treatments available that can effectively treat the condition. This section will discuss some non-surgical options for treating rotator cuff tears.

Physical Therapy

A personalised exercise program targets the patient’s specific needs during physical therapy. This program may include exercises to improve strength and flexibility in the shoulder joint and exercises to improve posture and body mechanics.

Physical therapy may include manual massage, stretching, and joint mobilisation. The benefits of Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tear include:

  • Reduces pain
  • Improves range of motion
  • Avoids surgery
  • Enhances flexibility
  • Prevents re-injury
  • Restores functionality
  • Improves quality of life
  • Cost-effective
  • Professional guidance

Now let’s discuss the various physical therapy procedures and exercises discussed in detail below.

Types of Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tears

Several types of physical therapy can be used to treat rotator cuff tears, including.

Range of Motion Exercises:

These exercises are designed to improve the shoulder joint’s flexibility and range of motion. They may involve stretching, gentle movements, or specific exercises designed to improve the range of motion.

Strengthening Exercises:

These exercises help strengthen the shoulder muscles and tendons, which can help to prevent further injury and improve overall shoulder function. Strengthening exercises may include weight lifting, resistance band exercises, or other types of resistance training.

Manual Therapy:

This physical therapy involves using hands-on techniques to manipulate the muscles and tendons in the shoulder. Manual therapy may include massage, joint mobilisation, or other hands-on techniques.

Electrical Stimulation:

The procedure uses electrical currents to stimulate the muscles and nerves in the shoulder. It can help to reduce pain and inflammation and improve overall shoulder function.

Ultrasound Therapy:

The therapy works by stimulating the muscles and tissues in the shoulder through high-frequency sound waves. It can help reduce pain and inflammation and promotes healing.



Painkillers are often prescribed to manage the symptoms of rotator cuff tears. These medications block the pain signals sent to the brain, relieving the affected area.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs:

Several drugs, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, are commonly used to treat rotator cuff tears. These drugs help reduce pain and swelling and can be taken over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.

Topical Creams:

These effective creams can also treat rotator cuff tears by reducing inflammation and pain in the affected area. Common topical creams include diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and capsaicin, derived from chilli peppers and can act as a pain reliever.

Injection Therapy

Corticosteroid Injections:

These injections can provide temporary relief and help to enable physical therapy and other treatments. Common corticosteroid injections include triamcinolone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone. These injections can help reduce inflammation and swelling, which can help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections:

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections accelerate the healing of rotator cuff tears that have not responded to other treatments.

By injecting PRP directly into the site of the rotator cuff tear, it can help to increase the rate and quality of tissue repair. Some commonly used PRP injections for rotator cuff tear treatment include Arthrex ACP Double Syringe System, Emcyte PurePRP II, and Harvest Technologies SmartPrep 2.

Stem Cell Injections:

Stem cells can differentiate into other types of cells and promote tissue regeneration. In the case of rotator cuff tears, stem cells can be injected into the tear site to promote new tissue growth and repair the damaged area. Some commonly used stem cell injections for rotator cuff tear treatment include bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs), and umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells.

Alternative Methods for Treating Rotator Cuff Tear

Surgery and traditional physical therapy are the conventional treatment options for a rotator cuff tear condition. However, there are alternative, non-conventional methods available that may help alleviate the symptoms of rotator cuff tear. This section will explore some of these alternative methods for treating rotator cuff tears.


In the case of a rotator cuff tear, acupuncture can help by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow to the affected area.

The needles used in acupuncture stimulate the nervous system, triggering the release of endorphins and other natural painkillers. It can help to manage pain associated with a rotator cuff tear and improve the range of motion in the shoulder.

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractors use various techniques such as spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapy, and exercise rehabilitation to treat rotator cuff tears. Chiropractic care can help reduce tension and stress on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons by restoring proper alignment and movement to the shoulder joint. It can help improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to the injured tissues, speeding up healing.

Massage Therapy:

This ancient yet relevant therapy can be a beneficial treatment for those who suffer from a rotator cuff tear. It promotes blood flow to the affected area, reduces inflammation, and increases the range of motion.
Several massage therapy techniques can help treat rotator cuff tears. These include deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release.

Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure to the affected area to release tension and promote healing. Swedish massage involves long, smooth strokes to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Trigger point therapy relieves pain and tension in specific body areas, while myofascial release involves stretching and manipulating the connective tissue to improve mobility.


A few non-surgical options are available to treat a rotator cuff tear. These include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, and rest.

Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the tear and improve the range of motion. Corticosteroid injections can provide short-term pain relief.

A doctor or physical therapist can adequately diagnose the severity of the tear and recommend the best rotator cuff tear treatment. They can also guide proper exercises to help strengthen the shoulder and prevent further injury. Individuals can successfully manage rotator cuff tears with proper diagnosis and guidance and prevent further injury.

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