Common Myths and Misconceptions About Rotator Cuff Injuries

September 18, 2023 3:11 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Rotator cuff injuries are a common problem that can cause significant pain and limit the function of the shoulder joint. However, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding these injuries that can lead to confusion and delay in seeking proper treatment. In this blog post, we will debunk some of the most prevalent myths and shed light on the facts about rotator cuff injuries.

Myth #1: Rotator cuff injuries only occur in athletes and active individuals. 

Fact: While rotator cuff injuries are common in athletes, they can occur in anyone regardless of their activity level. Everyday activities like lifting heavy objects, repetitive overhead movements, and even age-related degeneration can lead to rotator cuff injuries. It is important to understand that these injuries are not limited to athletes and can affect individuals from all walks of life.

Myth #2: Rest is the best treatment for a rotator cuff injury. 

Fact: Rest is an important part of the healing process for rotator cuff injuries, but it is not the only treatment. In fact, prolonged rest can lead to muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Physical therapy, including exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, is a critical component of the rehabilitation process. It helps restore strength and flexibility, reduce pain, and improve overall shoulder function.

Myth #3: Surgery is the only solution for a torn rotator cuff. 

Fact: Surgery is not always necessary for a torn rotator cuff. In fact, many rotator cuff injuries can be effectively treated with conservative methods such as physical therapy, medications, and injections. Surgery is typically reserved for severe tears or cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief. It is important to consult with a medical professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for a rotator cuff injury.

Myth #4: If you can move your arm, you don’t have a rotator cuff tear. 

Fact: The ability to move the arm does not necessarily mean that a person does not have a rotator cuff tear. In fact, some individuals with rotator cuff tears can still perform certain movements without pain. However, pain, weakness, and limited range of motion are common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear. A proper diagnosis, often through imaging tests like an MRI, is crucial to accurately determine the presence and severity of a rotator cuff tear.

Myth #5: Exercise will make a rotator cuff injury worse. 

Fact: While excessive or improper exercise can exacerbate a rotator cuff injury, appropriate exercises prescribed by a physical therapist can actually aid in the healing process. Physical therapy exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint, improving range of motion, and reducing pain. These exercises, when done correctly and under guidance, can help restore function and prevent further damage to the rotator cuff.

Myth #6: Rotator cuff injuries always require a long recovery period. 

Fact: The recovery period for rotator cuff injuries can vary depending on the severity of the injury, the chosen treatment approach, and individual factors. While some cases may require a longer recovery period, many mild to moderate rotator cuff injuries can be effectively managed with conservative treatments and recover within a few weeks to a few months. It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and engage in proper rehabilitation exercises to enhance the recovery process.


By debunking common myths and misconceptions about rotator cuff injuries, it is important to understand that these injuries can occur in anyone, not just athletes. Rest alone is not sufficient for treatment, and surgery is not always necessary. The ability to move the arm does not rule out a tear, and appropriate exercises prescribed by a physical therapist can aid in the healing process. Finally, recovery periods can vary, but with proper treatment and rehabilitation, individuals can regain strength and function in their shoulder joint. It is essential to seek professional medical advice and treatment for rotator cuff injuries to ensure an accurate diagnosis and timely recovery.

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