Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Center

 (802) 847-5819

192 Tilley Drive
South Burlington, VT 05403-4440

Monday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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Common rotator cuff problems include tendinitis, bursitis and tears. At the University of Vermont Medical Center, our team pinpoints the cause of your pain with advanced imaging tools so we can develops a personalized treatment plan for every patient.  

Our treatment goals include:

  • Alleviating chronic shoulder and arm pain
  • Preventing additional shoulder damage
  • Minimizing the size of a rotator cuff tear
  • Helping to retain shoulder and arm mobility

Rotator Cuff Treatment at UVM Medical Center

Rotator cuff injuries may occur due to falls, sports injuries and other accidents. Our orthopedic specialists regularly treat tears in patients of all ages with basic or complex injuries. Features of our care include:

  • Experience and expertise: Our University of Vermont Medical Group physician staff includes board-certifiedorthopedists with specialty training in sports medicine. Our surgeons are all fellowship trained, which means they have advanced training in their field.
  • Personalized treatments: Every rotator cuff injury or tear is different, and not every one will require surgery. We work with all of our patients to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific health needs, including your age and severity of your injury.
  • Minimally invasive options: If your physician recommends surgery, we offer minimally invasive approaches that lead to less pain and easier recoveries for qualified patients. For some patients, we combine this approach with open surgery for better results.
  • On-site physical therapy: Physical therapy is part of every patient's recovery. We make it easy and convenient for you with an on-site rehab facility and therapists who work closely with your physician.

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Problems

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can determine the size, age and location of your rotator cuff tear. At the UVM Medical Center, our specially-trained musculoskeletal radiologists are actively involved in the imaging process from start to finish. The resulting high-quality, ultra-clear images enable physicians to precisely see the problem area so that the best treatment method is used.

Treating Rotator Cuff Tears

All of our orthopedic doctors completed fellowships in sports medicine or orthopedics, so you can feel confident that you are receiving the most expert care available.

Rotator cuff treatment options include:

  • Nonsurgical treatments
  • Surgery

Nonsurgical Treatments for Rotator Cuff

Nonsurgical treatments alleviate pain and improve shoulder function in up to half of patients. However, shoulder strength usually will not improve without surgery.

Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Limiting activities that aggravate the rotator cuff injury
  • Using a sling to limit shoulder mobility
  • Taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate pain and swelling
  • Participating in physical therapy sessions to strengthen shoulder muscles and improve range of motion
  • Using ultrasound-guided imagery to precisely inject cortisone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, into the area that is causing pain

Rotator Cuff Surgery

During rotator cuff surgery, our surgeons reattach the tendon to the head of the upper arm bone or humerus, as well as repair other damage caused by osteoarthritis, bone spurs or other soft tissue tears.

Your physician may recommend surgery if:

  • Your pain doesn't improve with nonsurgical methods
  • Your symptoms continue for 6 to 12 months
  • Your rotator cuff tear is larger than 1 inch
  • You experience significant weakness and loss of shoulder function
  • You are very active and use your arms a lot for overhead work or sports
  • Your injury is due to severe trauma

Surgeons at UVM Medical Center use several approaches to repair torn rotator cuffs. You and your doctor will discuss which of the following surgery options will offer you the best results.

  • Arthroscopic surgery. During this minimally-invasive procedure, your surgeon uses a small camera called an arthroscope to guide tiny surgical instruments to fix the tear.
  • Open repair. Your doctor may recommend this method if your tear is large or complex. It requires cutting a 1- to 2-inch incision into the shoulder. Through this incision, your surgeon detaches the shoulder muscle or deltoid to gain better access to the torn tendon.
  • Mini-open repair. This procedure combines arthroscopic surgery with open repair. After cutting a 1- to 2-inch incision, your surgeon will insert an arthroscope to assess and treat other joint damage, such as the removal of bone spurs. Next, your surgeon will repair the rotator cuff tear through the mini-open incision without the aid of the arthroscope. Your shoulder muscle isn't detached during a mini-open repair.

Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Whether your treatment includes surgery or not, physical therapy is an integral part of shoulder rehabilitation. We make recovery convenient for you with an on-site rehab facility. Our physical therapists will develop an individualized exercise plan for you to strengthen shoulder muscles and improve range of motion. Our team of specialists also works with physical therapists outside of the UVM Medical Center to ensure your recovery is successful.

Contact Us

For more information call us at 802-847-BONE (2663).

Nathan K. Endres, MD
Orthopaedic Surgery
Sports Medicine
David K. Lisle, MD
Sports Medicine
Claude E. Nichols, MD
Orthopaedic Surgery
Sports Medicine
Kimberly A. Sikule, MD
Sports Medicine
Family Medicine - Primary Care