About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

6 comments on “Partial Rotator Cuff Tears: Do I Need Surgery?

  • Dr., I fell on my shoulder skiing on March 3 of this year and a few days later saw an orthopedist who diagnosed it as a strain. I immediately started PT but was still in considerable pain. Went back to the ortho and got an MRI that showed a partial tear of the infraspinatus. He diagnostically suspected a labral tear as well but didn’t want to do an arthogram as he felt there was no need for the invasive test if we weren’t doing surgery. I’ve been doing PT almost daily now since March 14th and range of motion is very good with minimal pain except for external rotation where I’ve just finally surpassed 90 degrees. Pain is minimal at night now after a rough second month and my daily activities for the most part aren’t affected. I still however seem to take 2 steps forward and 1 back with therapy as I occasionally do something that tweaks the infraspinatus and brings pain back to that area and the side of my arm. I also have a lot of shoulder clicking and a catching sensation on the side of the shoulder, presumably where the infraspinatus tendon attaches to the humerus. My question is how long will the recovery take? It’s been almost 3 months and while I know I’ve progressed greatly, I’m concerned it’s not fast enough or it won’t get any better. I still need to be careful when lifting things and have yet to be able to return to golf which I thought I’d be able to do by now with just a partial tear. I am a 46 year old male and the injury is to my non dominant shoulder. Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Actually a very common story…. As long as you are improving, regardless of how slowly, continuing with your stretches and exercises are worthwhile.

  • I’m a 59 year old female and play golf about once per week. Recently lost about 20 lbs in the last 6 months due to changing food choices and exercise. The exercise includes military style push-ups and planks most days of the week. Over the last few weeks I’ve started to experience popping and a limited range of motion in my right shoulder. Could I have inadvertently injured myself?

    • At 59 your rotator cuff is starting to show its age… it’s a process we refer to as tendinosis. It’s not unusual for our shoulders to ache or hurt after starting a workout program. Often times that discomfort will subside. If the pain continues on for a few weeks / months and starts to interfere with your quality of life then you can consider having a shoulder doc examine you.

  • I was scheduled to have surgery the week when the corona virus came to light. My surgery was cancelled and I have decided not to have it done once elective surgeries are resumed. The findings of my MRI stated” There is moderate acromioclavicular joint arthrosis with inferior spurring, narrowing of the subacromial space, and mass effect on the sujacent supraspinatus myotendinours region. Minimal fluid is seen in the subacromial/subdeltoid bursa. Coracoacromial and coracoclaviclar ligaments are intact. There is some thickening of the coracoacromil ligament. Signal alteration is seen in the supraspinatus tendon consistent with tendinosis. There is mild tendinosis near the infraspinatus insertion as well. The teres minor tendonis intact. There are findings of subscapularis tendinosis. There is some thinning of the proximal vertical segment of the biceps tenndon. Signal in the intrcapsular component indicates tendinosis. The supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles are preserved. The deltoid muscle is unremarkable. Glenohumeral articulation is maintained. There is a small glenohumeral joint effusion. There is degenerative tearing of the superio labrum extending anteriorly. There is thickening and signal alteration alond the axillary recess which may be reflectionn of adhesive capsulitis. A small area of fibrocystic change is seen in the humeral head at the superior aspect of the bicipital groove. Acromioclavicular joint arthrosis with narrowing of subacromial space and mass effect on subjacent supraspinatus. Tendinosis and partical thinning of biceps tendon. Degenerative labral tearing. Findings suesstiion adhesive capsulitis. My question is, did I make the right decision not to have the surgery. What I’ve read is my condition is really frozen shoulder and may respond to PT.

    • Those are all very common findings… even in shoulders that do not hurt. There is nothing on that MRI report that says you need an operation. PT is the way to go.
      Good luck

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