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Rotator Cuff Surgery

Home Specialties Shoulders Rotator Cuff Surgery

What Is A Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is comprised of muscles and tendons that gather around the shoulder joint to form a cuff. Theses muscles and tendons help the joint to move and keep it in place. Surgery is typically necessary to repair a rotator cuff in the shoulder.

How Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Happen?

A rotator cuff injury usually occurs when the muscles or tendons are overused. People who participate in activities that require frequent overhead motions, such as painting or playing tennis, are more likely to suffer from a rotator cuff injury. The risk of injury increases as people age. A dull ache in the shoulder is the most common symptom.

When Is Rotator Cuff Surgery Recommended?

There are several reasons why you might choose surgical repair for your rotator cuff injury. If your shoulder pain is consistent and making it difficult to sleep or rest at night, rotator cuff repair is a good option. If you have tried exercise and physical therapy without any improvement over the past 6 or 12 months, you might also be a good candidate. If your everyday life is being affected by the pain or weakness caused by your injury, surgical repair can help you get back to your favorite sports and activities.

Rotator Cuff Surgery vs. Physical Therapy — Which Should I Choose?

Surgery is a good option if you have a complete tear in your rotator cuff. For a partial tear, you may want to start with rest and physical therapy. However, it is possible that the tear can get larger over time.

Dr. Hessing Orthopedic Surgeon

How Do I Prepare For Rotator Cuff Surgery?

To prepare for rotator cuff surgery, it is important to speak with your physician. You should talk to your doctor about any medications or supplements that you take including non-prescription medications.

Two weeks before the surgery, you may have to stop taking all blood thinners including Advil and Aspirin. There are some medications that you may still be allowed to take on the day of your surgery. Your surgeon may ask to speak with your primary care physician or other health care providers prior to the surgery.

If you currently consume an excessive amount of alcohol or smoke regularly, it is a good idea to try to stop. Smoking can slow down the healing process. Your doctor should offer you resources to help with this. It is important to tell your doctor if you develop a cold or some other form of illness the day of your surgery. Your physician may want to postpone your surgery until you are feeling better.

On the day of the surgery, you will need to stop eating or drinking several hours prior to the surgery. Be sure to take any pre-surgery medication that was prescribed to you and arrive on time for your surgery.

What Are The Types Of Rotator Cuff Surgery?

Arthroscopic Surgery

The surgery can also be performed with an open incision or through shoulder arthroscopy. During arthroscopic surgery, your surgeon will insert the arthroscope, which is a tiny camera, and other necessary tools, through small incisions. The goal of the surgery is to reattach the tendon to the bone. Arthroscopic tendon repair is less invasive and can leave a smaller scar.

Open Tendon Surgery

In some cases, the doctor may recommend an open tendon repair surgery. This type of surgery requires a larger incision. Additionally, the recovery process may be longer for this type of surgery. If a bone overgrowth is the cause of your pain, your surgeon may recommend a bone spur removal. During this procedure, the excess bone is removed, and the tendon is smoothed. A bone spur removal is usually an arthroscopic procedure. If there is too much damage to the tendon, your surgeon may use a different tendon to connect to the arm bone.

What Happens During Rotator Cuff Surgery?

During rotator cuff surgery, your surgeon will reattach the damaged tendons to the bone. After the surgeon is finished attaching the tendon to the bone, they will close up the incision and apply a dressing. If the surgeon performed an arthroscopic procedure, you may able to see pictures from the procedure that show the tendon damage and the repairs.

Complications And Risks

There are risks and complications associated with any surgery, particularly when undergoing general anesthesia. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to some of the medications that will be used. For this reason, it is important to speak to your doctor about any of your known allergies prior to surgery.

Other surgery risks include breathing problems, bleeding, blood clots, and infection. The specific risks associated with rotator cuff surgery include further injury to the tendon, blood muscles, or nerves. In some cases, the surgery may not be as effective as expected, and you might still experience some pain.

Recovering From Rotator Cuff Surgery

After the surgery, you will be given discharge instructions. It is important that you follow these instructions. You will typically need to wear a sling or a shoulder immobilizer for 4-6 weeks to protect the repair. You may be prescribed pain medication. Physical therapy may be helpful in improving your recovery. The recovery period can be longer depending on the type of surgery and the size of the tear. Rotator cuff surgery is usually successful in alleviating pain. However, strength and movement in the shoulder may not return immediately.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr Dr. Hessing

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