A rotator cuff is a strong group of tendons and ligaments that form a cuff over the shoulder.
It both supports the arm and connects the upper arm to the shoulder blade.
The tendons in a rotator cuff are what five the shoulder stability, and the muscles are the ones that give the shoulder the ability to rotate.
When a rotator cuff is damaged or torn, it can cause a variety of issues.
As for your rotator cuff repair, it all depends on the extent of your injury and whether or not you will need physiotherapy and/or surgery.
So you may be wondering…
When do you have to start considering surgery as an option …
Is there are more natural, less invasive approach to take which will help you recover and heal just as fast.
A torn rotator cuff usually means that the tendons have been torn due to a sudden injury or overexertion.
It usually requires surgery ONLY if your injury is quite severe and hasn’t healed on its own.
Other reasons include:
1. If you have pain in your shoulder when you are resting or at night and if this pain has not decreased or improved with specific exercises.
You can find a great list of 10 of them over here (And you don’t need any fancy exercise equipment to do them)
2. If you are normally physically active and use your shoulder for sports or work.
3. If the weakness is so severe that you are not able to do everyday activities without a lot of discomfort and pain.
For people who do not use their shoulder a lot or place a lot of stress on it, the best approach is often to use exercise and rest to heal the shoulder.
But here’s the thing …
Although the pain should improve, the tear may also grow over time.
This is often the approach for those with partial tears in their rotator cuff, and who, thus, do not require surgery.
For the more severe injuries, surgery is often the only way.
This is especially the case if strength and movement in the shoulder have not sufficiently improved with the use of nonsurgical treatments.
Rotator cuff surgery is best if done soon after the injury, within a few weeks at most. However, repairing larger tears is not always successful.
The healthier the tendon tissue, the more likely the surgery will work.
If the tendon tissues are frayed or torn, the surgery is less likely to be successful.
Additionally, extremely large tears, larger than 2 inches or so, are often irreparable by such surgeries.
Repairing a rotator cuff involves stitching the tendon back onto the upper arm bone, the humerus.
First, loose fragments of tendon and other debris are removed from the space in the shoulder where the cuff moves; this is called debridement.
Then, room needs to be made for the tendon so that it is not pinched or irritated.
This might involve shaving the bone if needed.
Last of all, the torn edges of the tendon are sewn together and to the top of the humerus bone.
This can be done with stitches that are made of metal or that are dissolvable.
There are three common procedures to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Check out this in-depth article with video on the various surgical procedures.
1. Arthroscopic surgery
This is the most common surgical procedure to repair rotator cuff tears.
It is usually performed as a day-case operation, meaning you can go home later the same day as the surgery.
It also involves less pain after the operation, as well as a shorter healing time.
The complications associated with surgery also decrease, as this is a less invasive surgery.
However, since arthroscopic surgery involves repairing the tear through very small incisions in the shoulder, rather than opening it all, it is also more technically demanding.
2. Open-shoulder surgery
The procedure of this surgery involves making a larger surgical incision so that the large muscle in the arm can be moved out of the way.
This provides more access to the torn tendon underneath. This option is usually reserved for larger or more complicated tears.
3. Mini-open repair
This surgery is a combination of the previous two techniques.
An arthroscope is used to remove damaged tissue or bone fragments first.
Then, a larger incision (2 to 3 inches) is made to mend the rotator cuff.
After the procedure, you are usually discharged from the hospital wearing a sling, or, in some cases, a shoulder immobilizer.
The purpose of this is to keep your shoulder immobilized and to stop it from moving.
The recovery process can be lengthy, depending on the severity of the tear.
The sling is usually used for about 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery, while complete recovery can take 4 to 6 months.
The recovery process also involves physical therapy to help regain strength and motion of the shoulder.
Once again, the length of time that therapy is required also depends on the extent of the injury, as well as on the method of repair.
Rotator cuff repair surgery is usually successful in alleviating pain in the shoulder.
Despite the surgery, however, the shoulder may not regain full strength.
Sometimes, the tear does not fully heal and chronic pain, stiffness, and weakness may still affect your shoulder.
The risks of this increase if the rotator cuff was already weak or torn before the surgery, as well as if the tear was very large.
Additionally, failing to follow post-surgery exercises and instructions may decrease the chances of full healing.
Poorer results are also seen in older patients and those who smoke.
Additionally, it may take several months before you are able to resume your regular activities.
A tear in the rotator cuff tendon can be a very serious matter.
Depending on the size of the tear, the tear can be healed or the pain alleviated through physiotherapy and/or surgery.
Depending on the extent of the injury, as well as on the treatment used, the rehabilitation can be difficult and lengthy.
Due to the risks involved with surgeries, as well as to this specific surgery, a Doctor should be consulted before the surgery for full information.
But that’s only part of the story …
What if I told you that overcoming your rotator cuff condition was way less expensive as surgery ..
You can fully heal and recover from the comfort of your own home.
Would you be interested?
I bet you would.
Click on the button below which will show you a video that explains a 4 step approach to curing rotator cuff injuries.
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