Anyone who’s torn their rotator cuff is eager to get back to normal, everyday activities—especially athletes. It’s hard to stay sidelined watching your teammates compete in volleyball matches, swimming meets or baseball games. Consider three actions that may help you get back in the game.

See Rotator Cuff Injuries

Initial treatment for rotator cuff injuries involves pain control using anti-inflammatory medications and rest.
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Rotator Cuff Injuries: Initial Treatment

1. Take nutritional supplements

Some experts advocate taking nutritional supplements to help a rotator cuff tear heal. Supplements have different functions, and some may help your rotator cuff injury, including:

  • St. John’s wort and arnica can help cure musculoskeletal trauma
  • Bromelain—an enzyme found primarily in the stem of a pineapple—is a natural remedy to help reduce inflammation
  • Vitamins C and E can help reduce pain

Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking a supplement, as some supplements interact with medications.

See How Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Occur?

2. Stop smoking

If you have surgery for your rotator cuff tear, then you should stop smoking. Nicotine can slow down the healing process after surgery. Also, people who smoke have more complications—such as infection and poor healing of the injury—following rotator cuff surgery than people who don’t smoke.1

See Rotator Cuff Tear Surgery

3. Change your sleeping position

When it’s time to go to sleep, don’t lie on your injured shoulder. Instead, try resting on your uninjured side, or lie on your back and prop up your injured arm with some pillows.2

These recommendations are in addition to more commonplace ones for rotator cuff injuries, like resting and applying ice to the injured shoulder. As you begin to regain shoulder strength and function, don’t become overconfident in your abilities and take on too much too soon. Trying to push through pain or hurrying through your rehabilitation program in attempt to progress quickly could set your recovery back. It usually takes several months to recover from a rotator cuff tear, so stay patient and follow your doctor’s instructions.

See SLAP Tear Shoulder Injury and Treatment

There is no one right way to heal from a rotator cuff tear, but there are several worth considering to help get you back to the sports you enjoy.

Learn more:

Rotator Cuff Injuries: Diagnosis

Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery

References:

  1. Surgery and Smoking. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery website. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00262. Last reviewed: December 2013. Accessed November 18, 2016.
  2. Rotator cuff - self-care. MedlinePlus website. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000358.htm. Updated May 9, 2015. Accessed November 18, 2016.