Shoulder Rotator Cuff Surgery Treatment Options and Recovery

Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery Overview:

Surgery may be used to treat a torn rotator cuff, if the damage is very severe or if nonsurgical cure has been unsuccessful to improve shoulder strength and movement sufficiently.

Surgical procedure to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon generally involves:

  • Eliminating loose fragments of tendon, bursa and other debris from the space in the shoulder where the rotator cuff moves (debridement).
  • Making more room for the rotator cuff tendon so it is not tensed or irritated. If required, this includes shaving bone or eliminating bone spurs from the point of the shoulder blade (Sub acromial smoothing).
  • Stitching the torn edges of the supraspinatus tendon together and to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus).

Arthroscopic surgery is the most common way that this operation is done. But in some cases, the shoulder surgeon requires to do open-shoulder operation, which requires a larger incision.

When Rotator Cuff Surgery is suggested?

Your surgeon may advise surgery for a torn rotator cuff if your pain does not recover with nonsurgical methods. Continued pain is the main indication for surgery. If you are very energetic and use your arms for overhead work or sports, your shoulder surgeon may also suggest surgery.

Other signs that operation may be a good option for you include:

  1. Your symptoms have lasted 5 to 1 year
  2. You have a large tear (more than 2 cm)
  3. You have significant weakness and loss of function in your shoulder
  4. Your tear was caused by a recent, acute damage

What to Anticipate After Surgery?

Discomfort after surgery may decline with taking pain medications prescribed by your doctor.

Your arm will be secured in a sling for a defined period of time.

Physical therapy after surgery is crucial to a positive recovery. A rehabilitation program may include the following:

  1. As soon as you awake from anesthesia, you may start doing simple exercises that flex and prolong the elbow, wrist, and hand.
  2. A physical therapist or a machine may help move the joint from side to side of its range of motion.
  3. Energetic exercise (you move your arm yourself) and stretches, with the help of a physical therapist, may start 5 to 7 weeks after surgery. This depends on how bad your tear was and how difficult the surgical repair was.
  4. You’ll be taught firming up exercises a few months after surgery. You’ll start with light weights and slowly progress to heavier weights.

Why it is done?

Operation to repair a rotator cuff is done when:

  1. A rotator cuff tear is caused by a sudden damage. In these cases, it’s best to do operation soon after the damage.
  2. A whole rotator cuff tear causes extreme shoulder weakness.
  3. The rotator cuff has failed to recover with 4 to 7 months of conservative nonsurgical cure alone (such as physical therapy).
  4. You need full shoulder strength and function for your job or activities, or you are young.
  5. You are in good enough physical condition to recover from operation and will commit to completing a program of physical rehabilitation.

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