What is Rotator Cuff Repair: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles located in the shoulder joint. These muscles help support the shoulder and allow it to rotate and be flexible. Unfortunately, when these muscles become damaged or weakened over time, rotator cuff repair is needed. This procedure repairs the muscles and tendons that are weakened or torn, which helps improve shoulder mobility and relieve pain.
What is Involved in Rotator Cuff Repair?
Rotator cuff repair is a surgical procedure that is typically performed arthroscopically. Arthroscopic surgery is performed with a small camera and specialized tools inserted into the shoulder joint through small cuts. During the procedure, the surgeon will repair and reattach the muscles and tendons that are damaged or torn. Depending on the severity of the injury, the surgeon may also use other techniques to reinforce the joint, such as using sutures, long-term stitches, or reinforced anchor tendons.
Benefits of Rotator Cuff Repair
Rotator cuff repair is typically done to improve shoulder mobility and reduce pain. Here are some of the benefits of the procedure:
- Enhanced shoulder mobility – After a rotator cuff repair, you should be able to enjoy greater flexibility, range of motion, and improved grip strength in your shoulder.
- Reduced pain – Depending on the cause of your injury, rotator cuff repair can help reduce or eliminate associated shoulder pain.
- Prevent further damage – By addressing your injury quickly, you’ll lower the risk of additional damage occurring in the future.
- Improved quality of life – Surgery can allow you to return to your normal activities and enjoy a better quality of life.
What Results Can I Expect From Rotator Cuff Repair?
Most people feel the benefits of a rotator cuff repair soon after the procedure is completed. Recovery times vary, but most people can expect to have full range of motion within 2-3 weeks. Results may vary depending on the severity and type of injury that is being treated.
Real People. Real Experiences.
We talked to real people who had shoulder issues and underwent rotator cuff repair to get their perspective and insights. Read their stories below:
Kim is a 30-year-old accountant from Oklahoma who experienced shoulder pain for months before deciding to get it checked out. She eventually underwent a rotator cuff repair procedure and was amazed by the results.
“The surgery was a success. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to return to doing the things I love, such as playing tennis and golf. I’m no longer in pain and I now have full range of motion in my shoulder. I’m so glad I got the procedure done and would recommend it to anyone with shoulder pain.”
Bob is a 47-year-old attorney from Texas who had been experiencing shoulder pain for several months before being diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. He was nervous about the procedure but decided to go through with it to address the issue.
“I had surgery to repair the rotator cuff tear. I was amazed at the results. The procedure left me with minimal scarring and surprisingly little discomfort. I was able to return to work within two weeks and can now lift items with no pain. I’m so glad I took the plunge and got the treatment I needed.”
What To Expect From Your Recovery
It is important to discuss the potential risks and expected results with your doctor prior to the procedure. However, there are certain activities that many people can expect during the recovery process:
- Keeping the shoulder elevated as much as possible during the first several weeks
- Implementing a physical therapy program right away to start the rehabilitation process
- Ice and heat therapy to promote healing
- Sleeping in a semi-reclined position to reduce strain on the rotator cuff
- Avoiding activities and movements that may put strain on the rotator cuff
- Following the doctor’s instructions for medications, rest, and activity
Pros vs. Cons
Rotator cuff repair is a viable option for many people, though not everyone will benefit from the procedure. Before making a decision as to whether or not to have the procedure, be sure to consider the pros and cons:
- Greater flexibility and motion in the shoulder
- Reduced pain
- Better quality of life
- Improved grip strength and coordination
- A relatively quick recovery time After a successful rotator cuff repair procedure, you may experience improvements in overall shoulder mobility
- Potential risks of surgery
- The procedure may not be successful
- Possible discomfort
- Extensive physical therapy may be required to restore range of motion and strength
- A long and tedious recovery process
Rotator cuff repair is an effective way to restore shoulder mobility and reduce pain. If you suffer from shoulder pain or are dealing with a rotator cuff tear, talk to your doctor to learn more about this procedure and decide if it’s right for you. With proper care and rehabilitation, you should be able to experience the benefits of rotator cuff repair safely and effectively.
Definition & Overview
Rotator cuff repair is a surgical procedure used to fix a tear in the muscles and tendons that hold the arm in its joint. These tendons are also used to facilitate shoulder movements.
The rotator cuff connects the upper arm, also called the humerus, to the scapula or the shoulder blades. The muscle component allows flexibility for movement while the tendons in the cuff are responsible for anchoring and stabilising the shoulder.
A rotator cuff tear usually involves the tendons while an injury typically leads to the inflammation or irritation of both the muscles and tendons. A rotator cuff tear usually results from wear and tear or injury. This condition does not immediately exhibit any symptoms, especially during its early stages. A partial tear in the affected part does not immediately necessitate repair. In some cases, the patient may be asked to try other alternative treatments to address their condition.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Patients suffering this orthopaedic condition may be offered to undergo surgical repair if they have been experiencing rotator cuff pain (particularly during rest or sleep) for several months and have tried other nonsurgical treatments but have not achieved relief.
Athletes with a torn rotator cuff, which can result in significant loss of shoulder functions and pain when lifting objects
Those who rely on the active use of their shoulder (such as those who do manual labour) to avoid losing their means of living.
Those who experience sudden injury and trauma to the shoulders, especially if the condition is not brought about by the usual wear and tear.
The procedure has a high success rate, particularly for those whose condition is brought about by a rotator cuff injury. In some cases where the patient experience gradual tear of the tendons, complete restoration of shoulder function and mobility may not be achieved. The procedure is typically followed by a series of physical therapy sessions to encourage the healing process and restore the strength of the affected part. During the first few weeks after rotator cuff surgery, minimal use of the affected shoulder is advised. This means no strenuous activities, as the arm is placed in a sling. Over time, patients experience relief of symptoms and improved mobility of their shoulders.
How is the Procedure Performed?
There are several approaches for performing shoulder surgery. These include arthroscopic, mini-open, and open surgical techniques.
Prior to the procedure, the patient is administered with either general or local anaesthesia. In the arthroscopic technique, small incisions are made at the surgical site. A small tube called the arthroscope is inserted to provide visualisation on the affected part. Other specialised surgical tools are also inserted to introduce the suture and tie the two ends of the torn tendons. This procedure is repeated as necessary until the tear is repaired. Suture anchors are also placed on the rotator cuff for stability. The surgical tools and the arthroscope are then retracted.
During the mini-open procedure, an arthroscope is also used for visualisation and the removal of any damaged tissue. If bone spurs are present, they are also removed before the surgeon makes another incision to access the torn tendon. The tendons are then sutured and repaired accordingly.
For large tears, the surgeon may opt to perform the open-surgical repair technique where a large incision is made over the affected part. The deltoid muscle is detached and moved to gain better access to the torn tendon. The surgeon then proceeds to suture and repair the tear, removing any bone spurs that developed. The deltoid muscle is then reattached before the incision is closed. Depending on the extent of damage, rotator cuff surgery recovery can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.
Possible Risks and Complications
As in any surgical procedure, the patient may experience an adverse reaction to anaesthesia. There is also the risk of excessive bleeding and infection of the surgical site.
Following an open surgery, there is the possibility for the deltoid muscle to become detached and may not heal properly during post-operative rehabilitation. This could affect the overall functioning of the shoulder.
Stiffness of the affected muscles is also another possible complication. If not addressed, this could become permanent and result in reduced mobility.
Though rare, injury to the nearby nerve supporting the deltoid is also reported.
There is also the possibility of the tendons being torn again after a significant period of time, or when the patient injures the affected part again. This would necessitate another surgical repair.
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Murphy RJ, Carr AJ (2010). Shoulder pain, search date August 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.