Will a rotator cuff tear heal on its own? Possibly, but not likely. The real trick is figuring out you have a rotator cuff tear sooner rather than later. I had one client, who had been a client for years, who came to me within two days of injuring her shoulder. I did the Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique workup for the shoulder and axilla (sorry, trying to get my key words in for the damn internet). So, I did that massage and the pain became more and more pinpointed in one area. This is the true test for a rotator cuff tear. If you do this workup and the muscles release, one by one becoming loose and fluid, but instead of getting better the pain crystallizes into one spot, there is a 90% chance they have a rotator cuff tear. I told the client this, but I also told her that because she had come in so soon there was a chance that the massage we had just done would prompt the tear to heal.
That is the joy of this work. SMRT is highly stimulating to the lymph system and has a tremendously positive effect on the healing process. Some people heal on their own after a rotator cuff tear, but it is rare. This work enhances the possibility of the tear healing, as long as the work is done soon after the injury. After a period of time, which could be a couple of weeks or a couple of months, depending on the clients body, the body will decide that the tear is now the new normal, and will actually protect the tear. The edges of the tear seal off and there is no possibility of the tear healing itself. Now, I am not a huge surgery advocate, but a tear that has gone on for a while will not get better without surgery. Once you know you have a tear, you have done the SMRT workup for shoulder and axilla, the pain pinpointed, so you went and had an MRI, which showed what you now suspected, a rotator cuff tear, you will have to have surgery. And the sooner the better. If you leave it, there will be further damage, most likely to the long head of the biceps, but damage could also crop up in the labrum and/or subscapularis. If you have had the tear for six months or more, do not wait, have surgery.