Rotator cuff disease accounts for 10% of all shoulder pain and major shoulder disability, with limited information concerning the natural history and treatment approaches for the disorder. Our objective is to assess the available evidence for the efficacy and morbidity of commonly used systemic medications, physiotherapy, and injections alongside evaluating any negative long-term effects. Although there is conflicting literature, there appears to be some consensus on the best indicators for choosing to treat a full-thickness tears (FTT) non-operatively to reduce pain and improve function. The risks associated with these tears include the potential of the progression of the tear, a diminished healing potential due to age or longer symptom duration, muscle atrophy, and fatty infiltration. The indications for surgery following conservative treatment are becoming more defined, and an outline regarding what scenarios warrant a transition from an initial conservative treatment plan has been developed. The developing benefits of using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and other biologics have the potential to be disruptive to current treatment protocols in the approaches to healing rotator cuff tears (RCTs). With improved imaging modalities, diagnostic accuracy, and sensitivity, practitioners of the future will hopefully be able to intervene earlier in the disease pathogenesis cycle.
Part of the book: Advances in Shoulder Surgery