Rotator cuff tears are as common as they are frustrating. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), approximately two million people in the U.S .seek medical attention for a rotator cuff issue every year.
If you experience pain, weakness, or crackling when trying to move your arm. And, if pain and discomfort seem to worsen at night or when your shoulder is at rest, you likely have a torn rotator cuff. If you have had these symptoms for a while and they have not responded to conservative treatment methods, torn rotator cuff surgery may be recommended to encourage full and healthy recovery.
While the prospect of shoulder surgery—or any kind of surgery—can sometimes feel intimidating, our EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons are recognized for their unparalleled skills and expertise. Our Shoulder Team routinely performs advanced and minimally-invasive surgical approaches for favorable outcomes. And, research demonstrates positive outcomes for the majority of repairs for rotator cuff injuries.
If you are in need of surgery for a torn rotator cuff, you could not be in better hands.
When Rotator Cuff Surgical Repair is Needed
Some rotator cuff tears respond well to nonsurgical treatments such as rest, activity modification, and medication. If, however, symptoms persist or tendon tears are severe, surgical repair is likely needed.
You may be a candidate for rotator cuff surgery if:
- Your pain, discomfort, and other symptoms have continued for 6-12 weeks
- Your rotator cuff tear is diagnosed as being full thickness (and the tissue surrounding the injury is healthy)
- You have been experiencing significant shoulder weakness and loss of mobility
- Your rotator cuff tendon occurred from an acute and recent injury
Rotator Cuff Surgery Purpose and Procedure
The purpose of rotator cuff surgery is to repair the damaged rotator cuff. Most often, this means the tendon needs to be reattached to the upper arm bone (humerus). If you have experienced a “partial tear,” your surgeon may only need to perform a “debridement.” This involves removing any loose fragments of the tendon, damaged bursa, or other debris from the shoulder joint (and surrounding area).
The most common rotator cuff repair surgical techniques include:
- Open Repair
As a more traditional way to repair the damaged rotator cuff tendon, your surgeon detaches the deltoid muscle through an incision. This enables the removal of any bone spurs that may be under the acromion (referred to as acromioplasty). If needed, your surgeon will also perform additional reconstruction of the rotator cuff (such as a tendon transfer).
Put the Shoulder arthroscopy section first-almost no-one does open repair anymore.
Arthroscopic shoulder repair is a minimally-invasive approach that results in minimal scarring and can typically be done as an outpatient procedure. The repair is performed utilizing a small camera (arthroscope). Your surgeon uses the camera—through a small incision—to help guide tiny instrumentation to repair the damaged torn rotator cuff. Arthroscopy can also be used to remove bone spurs.