Surgery vs. Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries: Ask a Therapist
Surgery vs. Therapy for Rotator Cuff

Do you need surgery for rotator cuff injuries?

If you have shoulder pain, you’re not alone. In fact, shoulder pain ranks just behind low back pain for the reason people seek medical care. And, among people experiencing shoulder pain, roughly 7/10 of them experience shoulder pain because of a rotator cuff injury.

Now, there’s no one “cure-all” treatment out there for any joint problem, shoulders included. However, the research does point to some basic principles that hold true. As I mention in this video, the research supports active treatments such as movement and exercise for positive long-term outcomes.

You may need some kind of passive treatment initially —like surgery, injections, or manual therapy— however, for long-term benefits, you need to back those passive treatments up with active treatment techniques.

The research also shows that, even if you have a rotator cuff tear, conservative treatment options (like physical and occupational therapy) should be considered the first-line treatment options.

Read our article we wrote on this topic here.

Check out there video below:

Check out the course I mentioned in the video about total shoulder replacement here.


[1] Piper CC, Hughes AJ, Ma Y, Wang H, Neviaser AS. Operative versus nonoperative treatment for the management of full-thickness rotator cuff tears: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2018 Mar;27(3):572-576. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.09.032. Epub 2017 Nov 21. PMID: 29169957.

[2] Longo, U.G., Risi Ambrogioni, L., Candela, V. et al. Conservative versus surgical management for patients with rotator cuff tears: a systematic review and META- analysis.BMC Musculoskelet Disord 22, 50 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-020-03872-4

[3] Ryösä A, Laimi K, Äärimaa V, Lehtimäki K, Kukkonen J, Saltychev M. Surgery or conservative treatment for rotator cuff tear: a meta-analysis. Disabil Rehabil. 2017 Jul;39(14):1357-1363. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1198431. Epub 2016 Jul 6. PMID: 27385156.

[4] Kendrick DB, Strout TD. The minimum clinically significant difference in patient-assigned numeric scores for pain. Am J Emerg Med. 2005 Nov;23(7):828-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2005.07.009. PMID: 16291435.

Are you dealing with pain?

We understand that struggling with the stress and strain of pain can be tough…Whether it’s waking up feeling stiff or severe tension after walking, running, or playing, no one wants to spend each day dealing with the soreness that pain brings. While many people choose surgery or injections for pain relief, at ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness, we offer non-surgical therapies which prevents patients from going under the knife.


If you’d like to book a pain consultation now, with one of our top clinicians, click the button bellow or have your provider fax over a referral. We only book a limited amount of these consultations each month, so act quickly before they’re gone.

Rafi Salazar OT

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the CEO & President of Proactive Rehabilitation & Wellness, as well as the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show. He has experience in a variety of rehab settings, working with patients recovering from a variety of injuries and surgeries. He worked as the lead clinician in an outpatient specialty clinic at his local VA Medical center, where he worked on projects to improve patient & employee engagement and experience throughout the organization. He has experience as a faculty member at Augusta University’s Occupational Therapy Program, as a Licensed Board Member on the GA State OT Board, has served on several committees for the national OT Board (NBCOT), and as a consultant working for the State of Georgia’s DBHDD. He is also on the Board of Directors for NBCOT. Rafi also authored the book Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare