Rotator Cuff Surgery

What is rotator cuff surgery?

The rotator cuff tendons play an important role in the shoulder joint. They allow the shoulder to rotate and help stabilize the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears often occur after there has been wear and tear and inflammation from the resulting tendinitis.

The orthopaedic experts at Main Line Health offer the latest treatment options to repair a rotator cuff tear, including minimally invasive surgery rotator cuff surgery.

When is rotator cuff surgery needed to fix a rotator cuff tear?

In younger people, a rotator cuff tear can happen when engaging in a throwing sport. In older people, it can be the result of shoulder dislocation or tendinitis. Trauma can result in tears at any age.

A Main Line Health orthopaedic specialist will conduct a physical exam and order diagnostic imaging to view the size, location and severity of your rotator cuff tear. You may be a candidate for surgical repair if you are diagnosed with a complete tear, or if your partial tear worsens and does not respond to nonsurgical treatment.

The type of surgical repair depends on several factors, including the size of your tear, your anatomy, and the quality of the tendon tissue and bone. Many surgical repairs can be done on an outpatient basis as an arthroscopic or mini-open repair allowing you to recover in the comfort of your home. More complex repairs may require an open surgery with a brief hospitalization to monitor recovery.

What to expect from rotator cuff surgery

When surgery is required to repair a rotator cuff tear, Main Line Health offers the most up-to-date surgical repair techniques. Surgery is performed by board-certified orthopaedic surgeons who aim to relieve pain and restore your shoulder strength.

Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most often involves reattaching the tendon to the head of the upper arm bone. A partial tear, however, may only need a trimming or smoothing procedure called a debridement.

A complete tear within the thickest part of the tendon is repaired by stitching the two sides back together. The minimally invasive procedure involves a few small incisions for the arthroscope, a camera that provides imagery to guide the surgeon, and the surgical instruments. If bone spurs are discovered, they can be removed without damaging the deltoid muscle.

If the tear extends into the biceps tendon or if the tendon is detached, the shoulder is unstable. The surgeon will need to repair and reattach the tendon using absorbable tacks, wires, or sutures. Tears below the middle of the socket are also associated with shoulder instability. The surgeon will reattach the ligament and tighten the shoulder socket by folding over and "pleating" the tissues.

Rotator cuff tears may accompany other shoulder problems such as osteoarthritis, bone spurs or other soft tissue tears. One surgery may be able to repair all of these problems.

Recovery from rotator cuff surgery

Following a surgical repair, patients will require rest to allow their surgical sites to heal. Your surgeon will prescribe outpatient physical therapy to help alleviate pain and strengthen the shoulder. You will also be given exercises to do at home.

Your surgeon's office will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress through recovery. It may take patients weeks to months to fully recover from rotator cuff surgery and return to normal activity.

At Main Line Health, our goal is to help alleviate pain, restore shoulder strength and help you return to the activities you love as quickly as possible.


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