The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that secure the head of the humerus bone (upper arm) into the shoulder socket. When the rotator cuff tears, patients may have difficulty lifting or rotating their arm, and in the process, they may experience pain or discomfort. Injury, overuse, and the gradual weakening of shoulder tendons are the most common causes of rotator cuff tears. To repair a torn rotator cuff, our surgeons may recommend steroid injections and physical therapy to reduce pain and restore muscle strength. If symptoms do not improve with nonsurgical methods, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary to suture the damaged tendon and anchor the bone in place. Our surgeons will provide suggestions for the best course of action.
Our team utilizes the most advanced surgical techniques and equipment when performing rotator cuff surgery. Depending on the extent of the injury, an arthroscopic surgery or mini-open repair may be performed to heal the damaged tendon. During arthroscopy, a small incision is made above the torn tendon. An arthroscope, which is a device with a camera attached, will be inserted into the incision so our surgeons can have better visibility of the shoulder joint. Once the camera is in place, small surgical instruments will be used to suture the torn tendon. After the tendon has been sutured completely, the arthroscope will be removed and the incision will be closed. Patients will have their shoulder immobilized to prevent injury and other complications upon waking up from the procedure.
Patients will be transferred to a separate room to recover immediately after surgery. If the tear was extensive, patients may be required to spend the night at the hospital for observation. Otherwise, once cleared by one of our surgeons, patients will be sent home the same day. Following surgery, the shoulder and arm will be immobilized to protect both from becoming re-injured. Physical therapy and rehabilitation will be vital for the recovery of a rotator cuff tear. Patients may be asked to work with a physical therapist to perform a series of exercises to regain strength and mobility in the shoulder. Most patients experience a full recovery after 4 to 6 months, but the healing process can vary depending on the extent of the injury, the type of surgery performed, and a patient’s commitment to post-surgical rehabilitation.