Rotator Cuff Surgery
What is rotator cuff surgery?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, helping to hold the arm in its place, and assisting in its movement. These tendons can be torn from injury or wear, and are typically treated by an orthopaedic surgeon.
Surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff often involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of the humerus (upper arm). This can be done by stitching the tendon back to its original site on the humeral bone. If the tendon is partially torn, a trimming and smoothing procedure called debridement might be done instead.
When should I see a specialist for rotator cuff surgery?
Persistent pain despite non-surgical treatments is usually a sign that you should consider seeing a specialist for rotator cuff surgery. If you are active and frequently lift your arms overhead to work or play, surgery is also an option that may be offered.
Other indications that you may need surgery are:
● Symptoms lasting between 6 to 12 months
● A large tear exceeding 3 cm with healthy surrounding tendons
● Significant weakness and loss of function
● Tear was caused by a recent acute injury
Did you know?
Age, size of the tear, poor quality shoulder muscle, smoking, osteoporosis, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol are factors that prevent tendon healing. Smoking cessation and improving blood glucose and cholesterol control could potentially improve healing rate.¹
What are the risks of rotator cuff surgery?
The risks specific to rotator cuff surgery are failure to relieve symptoms and injury to a tendon, blood vessel, or nerve.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
At your appointment, your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss your symptoms, medical history, and conduct a physical examination to check your injured shoulder. You should be prepared with any past imaging examinations done such as X-Rays and MRIs, and inform your doctor of any medications or supplements that you are currently taking.
What can I expect during rotator cuff surgery?
Many rotator cuff surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. On the day of the surgery, you should arrive at the hospital punctually for your appointment and take the medication that your doctor is likely to have prescribed.
The goal of the surgery is to get the tendon to heal. There are several ways to repair rotator cuff tears, traditional open repair, arthroscopic repair, and mini-open repair. Your doctor would have discussed the options with you prior to the surgery. Patients have rated them the same for pain relief, strength improvement, and overall satisfaction.
What happens after my rotator cuff surgery?
After your surgery, you will be wearing a sling and possibly a shoulder immobilizer to keep your shoulder from moving. The period of immobility is dependent on the surgery and could take up to 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery. The recovery could take 4 to 6 months with pain relief provided if necessary.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will likely prescribe physical therapy to help you recover your shoulder motion and strength.Request an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon today.
 Abtahi AM, Granger EK, Tashjian RZ. Factors affecting healing after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. World J Orthop. 2015;6(2):211-220. doi:10.5312/wjo.v6.i2.211.