While athletes suffer from traumatic forms of the injury, for many others age is to blame for torn rotator cuffs.
It's believed millions of Americans over 60 suffer from one.
Every year 250,000 people go under the knife for relief, but now there's a surgery-free alternative you can do for free!
Kay Subhawong has a torn rotator cuff. The small muscles that hold the shoulder joint together have ripped apart. "That type of rotator cuff tear occurs with aging just like getting wrinkles or gray hair."
Kay thought her only option was an operation. "I was really scared. I am not a fan of surgery."
"It usually takes people about four months before they can even think to get back to any kind of labor type work and it usually takes a year to get a full recovery," says Kohn E. Kuhn, MD Chief of Shoulder Surgery Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
But Doctor Kuhn convinced Kay to skip surgery and do these exercises instead.
Kuhn is director of the Moon Shoulder Group, a network of doctors researching the best options for bad shoulders. "We found the exercises programs that were found to be effective at treating rotator cuff disease and consolidated them into one physical therapy program."
The program focuses on range of motion, flexibility, and strengthening. "We do not expect the therapy program to make someone's tendon heal, uh, but it does take their pain away."
After six weeks of exercises. "I still hurt. I was still miserable." But after twelve weeks, "You know my arm doesn't really hurt."
A new study of 452 rotator cuff tear patients found the exercise program helped 85-percent avoid surgery. "And the effects last for two, up to five years so far."
Kay finished the program about five years ago. "And I really have not had trouble since."
Her shoulder misery is just a bad memory. Now, she's focusing on making good ones. "I just pulled my suitcase all over Europe a few weeks ago."
Doctor Kuhn says the exercise program has changed the way he practices. He tells us he's using therapy instead of surgery a lot more than he used to. The entire shoulder program is available for free online. The doctor says you should talk with your physician before starting it. Go to our website for a link.