2016-02-01 / Fitness

Physical therapy a good first choice before surgery for rotator cuff tears

By Dr. Leonard J. Somarriba, D.P.T, C.S.C.S. and Dr. John Scafidi, P.T., D.P.T, FAAOMPT

Why get surgery if you don’t need it? Those who experience nontraumatic rotator cuff tears, for example, would do just as well with “conservative treatment” such as physical therapy.

That’s according to a study published in Bone and Joint Journal (“Treatment of non-traumatic rotator cuff tears: A randomised controlled trial with one-year clinical results” — January 2014), which found that patients who received physical therapy alone for rotator cuff tears showed similar rates of physical improvement and patient satisfaction to those who received arthroscopic surgery or open surgical repair, combined with physical therapy.

This study well represents our experience and our patients’ treatment results when receiving treatment for rotator cuff tear. Results may vary depending on factors such as severity and extent of the tear, presence of other injured tissues, and the patient’s lifestyle. However, treatments such as medical exercise therapy, joint mobilization, stretching, neuromuscular re-education, EPAT and progressive resisted strengthening can play a crucial role in recovery without surgery. Extracorpoeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT) is a new and effective treatment for tendonopathy. The research demonstrates an 80 percent success rate with only five sessions of this treatment. Exercise promotes the body’s physiologic responses and the necessary circulation to rebuild the injured tissue. A reasonable progression to more challenging exercises will help to improve tissue integrity and the strength of the individual. Joint mobilization will restore the normal mobility required for a full recovery.

A thorough examination by a doctor of physical therapy can determine whether or not there is rotator cuff pathology. In the state of New Jersey, you do not need a medical prescription to receive physical therapy. If you are experiencing shoulder pain lasting longer than two weeks, you should consider calling your doctor of physical therapy to schedule an examination.

Dr. Leonard J. Somarriba D.P.T., C.S.C.S., and Dr. John Scafidi P.T, D.P.T, FAAOMPT are owners of ProFysio Physical Therapy LLC. For more information, call 732-970-7882 or visit www.profysionj.com. ProFysio has two locations: 1212 Route 34, Suite 24-25, Aberdeen; and 2124 Route 35 south, Holmdel.

Return to top