In general, if a patient has a rotator cuff tear, I don’t immobilize them with any sort of a sling or brace. Generally, the treatment for a rotator cuff tear that’s going to be treated conservatively would be activity modification – namely: usually avoiding overhead activities that are stressful to the rotator cuff – and some physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder. Sometimes I’ll give a patient a sling if they’re having a lot of shoulder pain and they’re needing something to protect the shoulder and when they’re out and about in public, they don’t want to have somebody coming up to them and saying, “hey Joe, how you doing?” and hitting them on their shoulder. So sometimes we’ll do that, but for the most part, I think it’s important to actually keep the shoulder moving because if you just put it in a sling for a period of time, it will get stiff. And then you’ll have two problems: you’ll have a rotator cuff tear with a stiff shoulder.
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