Surgical Information

Shoulder Arthroscopy for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (Shoulder Decompression)

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis?

Shoulder arthroscopy for rotator cuff tendinitis is a minimally invasive procedure to create more space for an inflamed rotator cuff and remove inflamed and damaged tissue. This is commonly referred to as a decompression of the shoulder.

The surgeon makes several small incisions around the shoulder joint and inserts a narrow fiber optic scope (called an arthroscope) to examine the condition of the rotator cuff. Tiny instruments are used to remove the inflamed portion of the bursa (the lubricating sac between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of your shoulder), as well as other tissue and bone, and relieve pressure on the tendons.

Arthroscopic treatment of rotator cuff tendinitis allows surgeons a full view of the shoulder without having to cut through or muscles. Patients experience less pain and blood loss, fewer complications and a faster recovery.


The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder connecting the humerus (upper arm bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade). Rotator cuff tendons help stabilize the shoulder joint and rotator cuff muscles help you raise and rotate your arm.

Rotator cuff tendinitis occurs when the tendons become irritated and the bursa that lines the tendons becomes inflamed. This condition is also sometimes called impingement syndrome or bursitis of the shoulder.

When is surgery recommended?

Surgery is used to treat rotator cuff tendinitis if conservative treatment – rest, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cortisone injections – has failed to alleviate pain and swelling.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery time is usually quite rapid, often just a few weeks. Unlike surgery for a rotator cuff tear, there is no need for long-term sling usage to protect tendon healing. Rehabilitation typically begins immediately after surgery and includes special exercises to restore shoulder range of motion and arm strength. Athletes can usually begin doing sport-specific exercises weeks after surgery, with an unrestricted return to sports quite rapidly.

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