Will a Rotator Cuff Injury Heal on Its Own?

A woman in pain holding her shoulder Jul5th 2022

Our shoulders are incredible—and they allow us to do incredible things. However, sometimes we exert ourselves a little too much and end up with uncomfortable shoulder aches. Pay attention to these deep, dull aches because you could have torn your rotator cuff. 

Your rotator cuff is a powerful group of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder in place—and unfortunately, that group of muscles and tendons tend to tear. Whether you’re combing your hair or playing tennis, rotator cuff injuries can happen when you least expect them to. 

How Do You Relieve Rotator Cuff Pain?

Treating your rotator cuff pain through regular exercise is important for your road to recovery. Unless your rotator cuff injury is severe, most tears can heal on their own with proper physical therapy treatments and regular at-home exercises. 

In this section, we’ll go over some of the best exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home, so you can get back to enjoying your daily activities faster.

1. Pendulum Swing

Stand next to a sturdy table, chair, or rail and place the hand of your unaffected arm on the surface of your object of choice. While keeping your back straight, lean forward and let your affected arm gently swing back and forth like a pendulum. 

This is when you can slowly start swinging your arm clockwise—and then counterclockwise—without using your shoulder muscles to create the movement. Repeat this exercise up to five times a day. 

2. Crossover Arm Stretch

You shouldn’t feel any pain at all with this stretch. Start by standing up straight while making sure your shoulders are completely relaxed. Stretch your affected arm across your chest while the hand of your unaffected arm holds your elbow. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, and then repeat with your other arm. 

Complete about four to five repetitions and repeat this exercise five to six times a week. Just make sure you’re not pulling or putting any pressure on your elbow.

3. Sleeper Stretch

This is a stretch you can practice right before bed. To begin, lie down on the side of your affected shoulder. Bring your elbow of your affected arm straight out and point your fingers toward the ceiling. Your arm should look like it’s in an ‘L’ shape position. 

Use the hand of your unaffected arm to press your affected arm’s forearm down to the floor or bed. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds with three to five repetitions. Repeat the entire stretch two to three times a week. 

How Long Does It Take for a Rotator Cuff To Heal?

While minor tears may heal within two to four weeks, most rotator cuff injuries can take upwards of four to six months or longer. Depending on the size of the tear, it can take about a year before the rotator cuff is completely healed. 

Physical therapy is critical for properly healing your rotator cuff and getting you back to what you enjoy most. Luckily, the movement experts at OSR Physical Therapy perform natural, non-invasive treatments that can help relieve your shoulder pain and heal your rotator cuff injury.

What if a Rotator Cuff Injury Goes Untreated?

Rehabilitating your rotator cuff is crucial. If you leave your injury untreated, you can experience long-term effects like severely restricted shoulder function and range of motion. The tear can also worsen over time if not addressed quickly. The longer a rotator cuff is left untreated, the higher the chance of surgery. It is recommended to treat a rotator cuff injury as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the shoulder sustaining even more damage.

Let OSR Physical Therapy Treat Your Shoulder Pain

You don’t have to live with shoulder pain. At OSR Physical Therapy, we understand that everyone is different—and so is every shoulder injury. That’s why we conduct a physical evaluation and diagnostics test to design a personalized treatment plan just for you.
Get back to living your best life and request an appointment at OSR Physical Therapy today.