Surgical Information - Procedures
Rotator Cuff Repair
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder connecting the humerus to the The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder connecting the humerus to the scapula (shoulder blade). Rotator cuff tendons help stabilize the shoulder joint and rotator cuff muscles help you raise and rotate your arm.
There are two different types of rotator cuff tears. A partial tear damages the soft tissue, but does not completely sever it. A complete tear, also called a full-thickness tear, splits the soft tissue into two pieces. In many cases, the tendons tear off where they attach to the head of the humerus.
When is surgery recommended?
Surgery is used to treat a rotator cuff tear if the injury is very severe, or if nonsurgical treatment – rest, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cortisone injections – has failed to improve strength and movement. It’s also a good option for patients who are highly motivated to return to a very active lifestyle. Untreated full thickness rotator cuff tears can cause significant instability of the shoulder, leading to arthritis, weakness and loss of motion.
In younger and middle-aged patients, surgery is the treatment of choice for a full-thickness tear if the tendon is repairable. Partial tears often respond to conservative treatment and heal without surgery. For older patients with natural degeneration, the decision to have surgery is based on a number of factors including symptoms, function, repairability and tissue quality.
What is the recovery time?
Recovery can be rapid or prolonged depending on the extent of the tear and the surgery required to fix it. It usually begins with three to four weeks of immobilization in a sling, depending on the extent of the tear, followed by several weeks of physical therapy to improve strength and function of the shoulder.