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Finding Your Way

Your Options for Treating Rotator
Cuff Tears

What's the best treatment for you?

Our guide, Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears, summarizes scientific evidence. It shows that patients get better with both nonsurgical and surgical treatments. Three types of surgery all produce the same level of improvement of shoulder function. However, arthroscopic surgery usually offers a shorter recovery time. A few studies found that some patients who had mini-open surgery returned to work or sports about one month sooner than those who had open surgery.

To decide what is right for you, consider asking your doctor questions such as:

1. What are the pros and cons of nonsurgical or surgical treatments for me?

2. If I need surgery, which type (open, mini-open or arthroscopic) do you think would be best for me?

3. What type of care will I need after surgery?

4. When can I return to my usual activities?

5. Will these treatments help my rotator cuff for many years?

6. When should I expect to feel better?

Getting information about the risks and benefits of different treatments helps you make an informed decision. And we know that informed patients often have a shorter path to better health.

I'm Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that's my advice on how to navigate the health care system.

Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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