Home treatment is often the first treatment for a rotator cuff problem. Treatment can help relieve the discomfort and keep the problem from getting
Rest your injured shoulder, although gentle movement of the shoulder is recommended. Limit repetitive
movement, and avoid strenuous activity and activities where your arms move
above your head. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice on how
long to limit movement. Most people don't rest long enough. The rest period
for a rotator cuff disorder may be a couple of days to several weeks. During
Avoid putting your arm in a sling. It is
important that you don't keep your shoulder completely still (immobilized),
because it can cause the joint to stiffen or can even lead to frozen shoulder.
Move your arm carefully
through its full range of motion several times a day. Progress slowly to avoid
Avoid activities or positions that cause
discomfort, such as playing golf or tennis or carrying heavy bags of groceries.
Stop any activity that hurts your shoulder.
People respond to heat and ice differently. Use whichever one
makes you feel better. In some cases, heat feels good for a while but may
make pain and stiffness worse after 1 to 2 hours. For a sudden injury,
don't use heat for the first 48 hours.
At first, ice helps relieve pain and reduce
swelling. Try applying ice to your shoulder for the first 48 hours after
To avoid harming your skin, place a thin
towel between the ice pack and your body, or put a pillowcase over the ice
Apply ice 2 or 3 times a day, up to 20 minutes at a
Apply an ice pack after exercising your shoulder, to help
After 2 to 3 days, start moving your shoulder
with the aid of moist heat:
Soak a towel in hot water, and wring it out.
Fold the towel to about
8 in. (20 cm)
While holding the towel on your shoulder, relax your
shoulder, lean forward so your arm hangs freely, and gently swing your arm back
and forth like a pendulum.
You also can do this exercise standing
under a warm shower. Heat relaxes your muscles and tendons by increasing blood
flow to them. When combined with gentle motion, heat can ease
Repeat these steps 2 or 3 times a day to reduce the
risk of permanent stiffness in the joint.