What is Rotator Cuff Surgery?
Surgery can be employed to address a torn rotator cuff when the injury is very serious or if non-surgical treatment has not been successful. It can improve shoulder strength and range of motion satisfactorily. Surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff tendon typically entails:
- Extracting loose fragments of bursa, tendon, and other debris from the area inside the shoulder where the rotator cuff turns.
- Making additional room for the rotator cuff tendon so that it is not irritated or pinched. If required, this will include shaving the bone or removing bone spurs from the end of the shoulder blade.
- Sewing together torn edges of the supraspinatus tendon and to the top of the upper arm bone.
Arthroscopic surgery is the most common. However, the surgeon may need to do open-shoulder surgery for severe cases.
When is the Procedure Performed?
Surgery to fix a rotator cuff is done when:
- A rotator cuff tear is the result of a sudden injury.
- A complete rotator cuff tear inflicts severe shoulder weakness.
- The rotator cuff has not improved within 3 to 6 months of non-surgical treatment alone.
- The person needs full shoulder strength and function for a job or activity, or if they are young.
- The person is in good enough physical condition to heal from surgery and is willing to complete a rehabilitation program.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
Pain after surgery can decrease with medications prescribed by the doctor. The arm will be protected using a sling for a prearranged period of time. Physical therapy following surgery is critical to an effective recovery. A rehabilitation program can include the following:
- As soon as they are awake after the operation, patients can start doing exercises which flex and extend the wrist, elbow, and hand.
- The next day, a physical therapist or a machine can assist to move the joint through a range of motion.
- Active exercise and stretches, with the help of a physical therapist, can begin 6 to 8 weeks following the procedure. This depends on how bad the tear was and how complex the surgical repair had to be.
- Patients can be taught strengthening exercises a few months later. Patients will begin with light weights and progress to heavier ones.