for people ages 40-84 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California and other locations
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by C. Benjamin Ma, MD



Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common reasons to seek musculoskeletal care in the United States and one of the fastest growing ambulatory surgery procedures. However, data on comparison of operative versus non-operative treatment is lacking and urgently needed.

Official Title

Operative Versus Non-Operative Treatment for Atraumatic Rotator Cuff Tears: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Pragmatic Trial


This is non-blinded, randomized controlled trial. Patients will be randomly assigned to either an operative or non-operative course of treatment and will be followed for 12 months from baseline.

Aim 1: To compare pain and function in patients undergoing operative versus non-operative treatment of atraumatic rotator cuff tears at 12 months of follow-up

Aim 2: To assess effects of rotator cuff tear size and age on comparative outcomes of operative versus non-operative treatments for atraumatic rotator cuff tears


Rotator Cuff Tear, arthroscopy, physical therapy, rehabilitation, surgery, Rotator Cuff Injuries, Operative, Non-Operative


You can join if…

Open to people ages 40-84

  • Aged =>40 years to <85 years
  • Shoulder pain and/or loss of range of active motion, strength or function
  • MRI-confirmed partial- or full-thickness supraspinatus and/or infraspinatus tear of 4cm or less in longitudinal dimension
  • Medically fit for surgery, defined as Category I-III per American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification
  • Ability and willingness to provide informed consent

You CAN'T join if...

  • Primary diagnosis is something other than a rotator cuff tear
  • History (in last 2 years) of shoulder fracture involving the humeral head on affected side
  • Previous rotator cuff surgery on affected side
  • Isolated subscapularis &/or teres minor tear on affected side
  • Acute rotator cuff tear caused by a severe trauma
  • Shoulder used as a weight-bearing joint
  • Contraindication to MRI (claustrophobia, pacemaker, pregnancy, shoulder implant, etc.)
  • Glenohumeral osteoarthritis on xrays/MRI, as determined by recruiting MD
  • Grade 4 fatty infiltration of rotator cuff (any tendons)
  • Candidate for shoulder arthroplasty at baseline
  • Non-English speaking


  • UCSF (UCSF) accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94158 United States
  • Western Orthopaedics accepting new patients
    Denver Colorado 80218 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
ARC Trial website
Study Type
Expecting 180 study participants
Last Updated