The shoulder is an important joint, but it’s one you don’t always notice much until you have a rotator cuff tear. This excruciating injury occasionally requires surgery, but even if it doesn’t, you’re left searching for anything to help reduce the pain. Taking supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear can be a quick, simple way to get back on the road to recovery.
The number one thing your body needs to repair a rotator cuff tear is protein, but not just any protein. Your body needs to make more collagen, a protein that forms up to 80% of the tendons and ligaments in your shoulder, and as much as 10% of the muscle.
If collagen is so crucial to healing, what supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear can support collagen formation? And what is it about rotator cuff tears that makes them so difficult to heal?
What is a rotator cuff tear?
A rotator cuff tear can involve four different muscles: the subscapularis, the infraspinatus, the teres minor, and the supraspinatus. In a rotator cuff tear, one or more of these muscles has been damaged. This makes moving your shoulder difficult and painful.
Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by sudden events, like putting your arm out to catch yourself when you fall. More commonly, though, rotator cuff injuries are caused by a combination of age and repetitive motion.
And as painful as moving your shoulder is with a rotator cuff tear, you can’t keep it too still. Keeping your shoulder still for too long, or using it much less can cause additional complications, like frozen shoulder. Rotator cuff tears should be treated as soon as possible to help ensure the healing process goes smoothly. If things have gone too far though, you can learn how to treat frozen shoulder at home.
Rotator cuff treatment can include surgery, injections, or at-home treatment like the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Many people take pain medicines like Tylenol or supplements like collagen for torn rotator cuffs.
Supplements to heal rotator cuff tears support your body’s natural healing process, and can even speed it up or reduce pain during healing. But what supplements should you take? Here are your best options.
11 Natural supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear more quickly
Rotator cuff injuries involve muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This means that any supplements to heal rotator cuff tears are also the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments. And taking a collagen supplement for rotator cuff repair hits all three categories.
While collagen is a vital building block for all of these tissues, it doesn’t work alone. Your body uses a variety of processes to heal.
Think of it like repairing a fallen wall. You’ll need bricks (collagen), but you’ll also need mortar, scaffolding to hold the wall while the mortar dries, and wheelbarrows to carry things around in.
Taking several supplements or taking extra care to include certain foods in your diet means that when you do take collagen for a torn rotator cuff, your body can make the best use of it possible.
These supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear are all backed by science. Research has explored how they can help you heal faster by supporting the natural processes happening in your body right now.
Capsaicin creams are one of the best fast-acting, at-home rotator cuff therapies. Most supplements take time for your body to process and aid in faster healing. And while that’s great long-term, capsaicin creams provide the instant relief you need.
Capsaicin causes a warm, tingly sensation when applied to the skin. This can help relax the muscles around a rotator cuff injury, which naturally tense up when you’re in pain. The tense muscles can often make the pain worse, catching you in a vicious cycle.
Using topical capsaicin supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear works by reducing inflammation and pain. Rest truly is a key part of healing, and reducing pain allows you to rest more deeply.
2. Boswellia and curcumin
Boswellia and curcumin sound exotic, but you probably recognize them as frankincense and turmeric. Both are anti-inflammatories and taking these supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear helps to reduce pain in the short term.
These supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear are especially effective for those dealing with rotator cuff tears that aren’t chronic. Studies have shown that boswellia and curcumin don’t show any significant difference in chronic injuries or pain.
3. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are compounds found naturally in cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery, flexible material that coats your bones at the joints. Rotator cuff injuries aren’t cartilage injuries, but your shoulder does have plenty of cartilage in it!
If glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are found in cartilage, and rotator cuff tears are usually caused by muscles, what makes them good supplements to heal rotator cuff tears?
Together, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help speed the healing of the rotator cuff by helping your body synthesize collagen more effectively. Taking these alongside a collagen supplement for rotator cuff repair will help your body use your collagen supplement more efficiently.
Bromelain is an enzyme most commonly found in pineapples. Specifically, bromelain is an enzyme that helps to break down proteins. Why would you want to include something that breaks down protein in your supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear?
Simply put, when bromelain breaks down the proteins in your tendons and ligaments, it frees up the amino acids those proteins are made of. This allows your body to remove anything it can’t repair more quickly, and use the remaining amino acids to rebuild stronger proteins and cells.
5. Fish oil
Fish oil is one of the oldest, most well-known forms of medical nutrition therapy. Fish oil was used in cooking as far back as Roman times (though it was known as garum back then). In the 1800s, “fish oil” as we know it today was invented in part to help prevent rickets in children during the Industrial Revolution.
So why is fish oil one of the best supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear?
These fatty acids are something you can only get from food, and they’re essential to creating cell membranes and regulating inflammation. Since your body is healing damaged cells, omega-3s are critical here!
6. Minerals like zinc and magnesium
More than two billion people worldwide are deficient in key vitamins and minerals. Your body needs too many different minerals to discuss here, but we’ll touch on two of the most important.
Zinc and magnesium are two key supplements to heal rotator cuff tears because of their role in collagen synthesis. Both help the body regulate hormones, but very little is known about why either is so effective at helping the body heal.
7. Vitamin A
Vitamin A functions beautifully alongside a collagen supplement for rotator cuff repair. Vitamin A helps your body process and store collagen throughout the healing process, but that’s not all it can help with.
Vitamin A is one of the best supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear because of how it changes your shoulder after healing.
Vitamin A is also correlated with greater tensile strength after tendon injuries have healed. In easier-to-understand terms, Vitamin A can reduce the rate of reinjury by helping your tendons heal up stronger than they were before the tear.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the few vitamins that has been confirmed directly to help speed healing by increasing collagen production. When it comes to supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear, vitamin C proudly has its place in helping your body manufacture more of the collagen it needs to repair the damaged tissue.
Even if you’re taking collagen for a torn rotator cuff, vitamin C can be helpful because your body can’t use the collagen in supplements just as it is. It has to be digested and your body has to put all the “pieces” of the collagen back together in its own unique formation. And that’s precisely what vitamin C is good at!
9. Vitamin D
Rotator cuff tears are more and more common causes of shoulder pain as we age. Aging naturally slows the body’s collagen production, but this can leave us more susceptible to injury and make healing slower. And vitamin D plays a big role, too.
People with vitamin D deficiencies are slower to heal after shoulder injuries and have a higher rate of injury than people without a deficiency. There haven’t been studies done on the effect of vitamin D supplements to heal rotator cuff tears, specifically.
However, up to 37% of US adults are vitamin D deficient, and many people with vitamin deficiencies may not notice they have them. If you’re dealing with a rotator cuff injury, it may be because you aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
10. Vitamin B12
Similarly to vitamin D, low levels of vitamin B12 are also associated with more frequent rotator cuff injuries. Specifically, vitamin B12 deficiencies were associated with degenerative rotator cuff tears. These tears start small, sometimes so small you don’t even notice them, and slowly get worse over time.
Vitamin B12 has a few roles in the body, and there are several explanations for why a deficiency of vitamin B12 might cause more frequent rotator cuff injuries. The simplest one? Vitamin B12 is also a key factor in collagen synthesis.
Alongside vitamin D, vitamin B12 is one of the best supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear if you’re concerned about reinjury.
The collagen peptides benefits list is massive, and as far as supplements to heal a rotator cuff tear, collagen tops the list.
Taking collagen for a torn rotator cuff does a few things. First and foremost, it ensures you’re getting plenty of the nutrients your body needs to repair damaged muscle.
Taking a collagen supplement for rotator cuff repair is also one of the more flexible supplements. If your tear gets worse, it could require surgery. And if you do need surgery, medical-grade collagen supplements can help you make sure you’re getting plenty of protein, even when you don’t have much of an appetite.
The benefits of vitamins and collagen for a torn rotator cuff
Healing from a rotator cuff injury is painful and frustrating. Unless you need surgery, other treatment options may be out of reach, especially if you haven’t been dealing with the injury for very long. Taking supplements to heal rotator cuff tears is an accessible option. And many supplements do more than help you heal, they help your health.
As your body rebuilds the torn tissue, it needs crucial vitamins and minerals, but most of all, it needs protein. Taking medical-grade collagen for a torn rotator cuff provides your body with a complete amino acid profile, giving it all it needs to rebuild a rotator cuff.