Charting the course of a disease or condition from beginning to end is called the natural history. No one really knows the natural history of unrepaired rotator cuff tears.
Patients who have rotator cuff surgery can be followed and studied. And in fact, most people with full-thickness tears do have rotator cuff repair surgery done. Many patients with unrepaired rotator cuff tears aren't seeing a physician over the long term for follow-up.
Some studies have been done to collect data on patients who have a pain free rotator cuff tear that eventually develops painful symptoms. That's when rotator cuff repair surgery is most often indicated and suggested.
Rotator Cuff Surgery Repair and Recovery
Rotator cuff repair protocol suggests a course of conservative care before rotator cuff surgery is done. Six-weeks to three months' treatment with a physical therapist is advised along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If there's been no improvement after this amount of time, then rotator cuff repair surgery should be reconsidered.
Rotator cuff surgery recovery varies as each surgical repair is different based on a few factors. First is the size of the tear and the method used to repair it. Second is the timing. In the early weeks of rotator cuff repair recovery the amount of load the repair can handle increases as the tissue heals. In the first six weeks the load limits are much less than after six to eight weeks. Most surgical repairs require limited activity for at least 12 weeks and some even longer. It is typical to take 4-6 months before you are allowed to play golf or tennis.
At The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics you will be thoroughly prepared beforehand and carefully monitored afterward, should you require rotator cuff surgery. Call Dr. Zehr at 239-596-0100 to discuss your options.