A new multicenter prospective study (good evidence!) shows physical therapy is very effective in the treatment of full-thickness rotator cuff tears. In the October issue of the “Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery”, JE Kuhn et al. showed that people with full thickness rotator cuff tears that were not the result of trauma (their injury was not the result of a fall, or blow to the shoulder) did very well with a 6-12 week course of physical therapy. People with rotator cuff tears had improved pain-levels and shoulder function after 8-15 visits of physical therapy. Furthermore, after a 2 year follow-up less then 25% of people elected to get surgery for their torn rotator cuff. The authors conclude that “Physical therapy is effective in the nonoperative treatment of atraumatic full-thickness rotator cuff tears…” and “…physical therapy is highly effective in alleviating symptoms.” This means that if you have a rotator cuff tear that was not the result of trauma you could save a lot of time and money by pursuing physical therapy instead of surgery.
Reference: Kuhn JE, et al. Effectiveness of physical therapy in treating atraumatic full-thickness rotator cuff tears: a multicenter prospective cohort study. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013; 22(10) 1371-1379.
Questions? Contact Jason for more information how physical therapy can help you at 406.556.0562.
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