Torn Rotator Cuff Recovery Time

Your shoulder is stabilized by the rotator cuff which is comprised of four muscles. If any of these muscles or the ligaments that attach them to bone are injured, it can cause extreme discomfort and pain. Damage to this area often occurs because of long time overuse, acute injuries or aging. 

Torn Rotator Cuff Recovery Time

  • Recovery time can vary depending on several issues, including the extent of damage, form of treatment, gender and age. Most of the time, if you have a small or medium tear and are doing physical therapy, you can expect a recovery time of between 3-6 months. If you are required to have surgery to repair the damage, it may take between 4-6 months to get better.
  • Older patients may need more time to recover. This is mainly because the body’s healing abilities are slowly diminishing as you grow older.
  • If the tear is large and there is fatty infiltration, the recovery may need more time. 

How to Shorten Torn Rotator Recovery Time

1. Apply Ice

 Ice cubes

If you want to shorten your torn rotator cuff recover time, put ice (wrapped in cloth is preferred) on your injury right after you found yourself injured. By doing so, you can minimize swelling and inflammation. Apply ice every other hour for about 15 minutes for the first several hours after injury, and continue to do the same thing three times a day until pain subsides, especially after exercising or physical therapy.

2. Rest

 woman resting

Rest is essential to the healing process. Not only does this mean sleeping more but also refers to limiting your activities, especially those that require you to reach overhead. You may have to use a sling to keep from using your shoulder area. By avoiding certain activities, you can reduce your chances of inflammation and you will heal faster.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Medication


A torn rotator cuff can still function well if treated with medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce inflammation and pain, making it possible for people to take part in common activities and physical therapy. Older adults or individuals who cannot undergo surgery can often manage their symptoms by taking this type of medication.

4. Cortisone Injections


While cortisone does not heal a torn rotator cuff, it can help reduce inflammation. Being injected into the affected area, cortisone works well in relieving pain so that you can undergo your physical therapy. It eliminates discomfort, allowing you to get better faster.

5. Physical Therapy Exercises

By utilizing exercises, physical therapy promotes healing by strengthening other supporting muscles, therefore helps reduce torn rotator cuff recovery time. 

Doorway stretch (Warm Up)


  • Stand at a doorway and spread your arms to the sides of the open entrance.
  • Grip the sides, with each hand at about shoulder height.
  • Slowly lean forward until you experience a light stretch. Be careful not to overstretch.
  • When you lean forward, make sure to shift weight to your toes.
  • The stretch should be felt in the front shoulder area.

Side-lying external rotation

 Side Lying

  • Lie down on your side, with your injured arm opposite from the floor.
  • Bend the elbow of your injured arm to a 90 degree angle, resting the elbow on your side.
  • Keeping your elbow against your side, hold a light weight dumbbell in your hand and slowly raise it upwards to the ceiling.
  • Keep it in the holding position for a few second, then release and slowly move your arm to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 and three times a day, gradually working up to 3 times a day at 3 sets of 20.

High-to-low rows


  • Place a resistance band on a door or something else sturdy enough for exercise. It should be attached at or above shoulder height.
  • Kneel down on the knee opposite of your injury. Align your body with your lowered knee. You can lay your other hand on the raised knee.
  • Hold the resistance band with the other hand with an outstretched arm. Your elbow should be pulled toward your body.
  • Your back should be straight. Your shoulder blades should squeeze together as you pull. Do not allow your body to move. Do not twist your arm.
  • Do 3 sets of 10.

Reverse fly


  • With knees slightly bent, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean slightly forward at the waist, keeping your back straight.
  • While holding a light weight in each hand, raise your extended arms slowly away from your body.
  • Do not lock your elbows as you lift and do not lift arms over shoulder height.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together as you perform the movement.
  • Do 3 sets of 10.

Lawn mower pull

 Lawn Mower pull exercise

Physical therapy exercises like the lawn mower pull can help reduce your torn rotator cuff recovery time significantly.

  • For this exercise, place your feet at shoulder-width apart while standing.
  • Hold one end of a resistance band in the hand of the injured arm, placing the other end under the foot opposite of your injury.
  • Bend at the waist, not locking your knees. Place the hand of the uninjured arm on your hip or upper leg. Make sure the hand with the band is parallel with the opposite knee.
  • Straighten as you pull the band across your body to your outer ribcage, just like you would if you were starting a lawn mower. Your shoulder blades should move together as you move to the standing position.
  • Do 3 sets of 10.

Important note:

Torn rotator cuff recovery time can be reduced significantly if you follow the above suggestions. However, you may need surgery if your torn rotator cuff is completely torn. You should seek medical attention right away if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Deep ache or pain
  • Trouble raising your arm
  • Inability or extreme discomfort sleeping on injured arm for more than a couple of days after injury occurred
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