What Does a Rotator Cuff Repair Involve?

Rotator cuff repairs are common procedures that can help you find relief from a variety of injuries. This article will help you understand when rotator cuff repairs are necessary and what they involve.

Rotator cuff repair overview

The rotator cuff is composed of four key muscles and their corresponding tendons that link your upper arm bone and your shoulder. Tendons attach each of these muscles to your arm and shoulder bones, allowing normal shoulder movements.

Sometimes, though, these tendons can stretch or even tear, which results in pain and a limited range of motion in the shoulder. When these strains and tears occur, surgery is sometimes necessary to repair them. An orthopaedic surgeon can work to restore the connection between the tendon and the bone during a rotator cuff repair.

Causes of rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are typically caused by wear-and-tear over time. Older adults are more at risk of rotator cuff injuries because of motions that strain the muscles and tendons that coordinate shoulder movement. Overuse is one of the most common causes of rotator cuff injuries.

These injuries are especially common among athletes, especially swimmers and throwers who repetitively stress the shoulder muscles during their sport. Repetitive stress can accumulate over time and lead to painful tears in the rotator cuff. Injuries to the rotator can also develop as the result of a single accident like a shoulder dislocation.

Another common cause is poor posture. Slouching forward puts extra pressure on the rotator cuff. Over time, this pressure can strain the tendons that compose the rotator cuff and result in a tear or inflammation in the shoulder joint.

Symptoms of rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff injuries tend to result in a handful of hallmark symptoms. Here are the key symptoms that can alert you of a potential shoulder problem:

  • Pain in the shoulder that gets worse during movements involving the shoulder
  • Reduced range of motion in the shoulder
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Feeling of instability or weakness in the shoulder
  • Swelling or inflammation around the shoulder

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention to prevent any further injury.

Treatment for rotator cuff injuries: rotator cuff repair

Rotator cuff injuries can be very diverse depending on the location and severity of the strain. There are several conservative treatments available that can help those who are suffering from rotator cuff injuries.

These preliminary treatments can include

  • Resting the injured shoulder
  • Taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Ice the shoulder to relieve inflammation
  • Trying physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen the shoulder

In some cases, though, surgery may be necessary to repair a severe rotator cuff injury. There are two common procedures that orthopaedic surgeons can typically use to repair an injured rotator cuff:

Mini-open rotator cuff repair: In this procedure, the surgeon will make a small incision to insert an arthroscope, or a small camera, that can give a more detailed image of the interior of your shoulder. Based on an inspection, the surgeon can then begin to reattach the torn tendon to the bone using sutures and small rivets to anchor the sutures. If the tear is more severe, a larger, open incision may be needed to fully repair the injury.

Supraspinatus tendon-to-bone insertion: One common location for rotator cuff injuries is at the supraspinatus tendon. This tendon stretches across the top of the shoulder joint and attaches to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus). To repair a torn supraspinatus tendon, the surgeon will use sutures to reattach the tendon to a small notch made in the head of the humerus.

An orthopaedic surgeon will determine your specific course of treatment based on your individual injury.

Rotator cuff repair at OAR

Rotator cuff injuries can be painful and will typically get worse over time if left untreated. At OAR, our team of experienced orthopaedic surgeons work hard to offer innovative treatment solutions that can help you get your life back again.
Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

If you’re suffering from a rotator cuff injury,

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