A rotator cuff tendon can tear as a result of an acute injury such as a fall or heavy lifting, or from normal age-related wear and tear. A torn rotator cuff does not heal on its own without surgery but many cases (8 out of 10) that involve partial tendon tear get better with nonsurgical treatments.
If you have torn your rotator cuff and nonsurgical treatments have failed to provide you significant relief from your symptoms, you may be considering rotator cuff repair. In this guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about rotator cuff repair.
Rotator Cuff Repair Procedure
Rotator repair or rotator cuff repair is a surgical procedure that involves re-attaching the torn tendon. A partially torn tendon may only need trimming or smoothing of the fraying pieces of the tendon while a completely torn tendon may involve stitching the tendon back to its place.
There are three techniques to repair a torn tendon. These are as follows:
An open repair requires several centimeter-long incisions. This procedure is performed when there is a large or complex tear or when tendon transfer is needed.
During the procedure, your shoulder surgeon split the shoulder muscles to access the torn tendon. Typically, this procedure also involves the removal of the bone spurs.
As the name implies, the all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair procedure is performed with the help of an arthroscope – a small, thin, flexible tube with a camera on one end. During all-arthroscopic repair, only key-hole size incisions are made to send the arthroscope and surgical instruments.
The surgeon views the torn tendon on a video monitor and re-attaches it with small surgical instruments.
Compared to open repair, mini-open repair techniques involve making a smaller incision. Like all-arthroscopic repair, this technique avoids the need to split shoulder muscles to access the torn tendons.
Like open repair, this procedure involves viewing the torn tendon directly rather than via a monitor.
Recovery After Rotator Repair
After the rotator repair, you can expect pain, which is a natural part of the healing process. You will be prescribed medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids to manage this pain.
You may also be advised to wear a sling and avoid using your treated arm for the first 4 to 6 weeks. Additionally, you will work with a physical therapist who will perform passive exercises (in which the therapist supports your arm and moves in various positions) and active exercises (in which you will move your muscle on your own) to strengthen your shoulder muscles.
Recovery from rotator repair might take several months (12 to 18 months) to complete and the recovery timeline usually depends on the technique of rotator repair, your activity level, and your overall health.
Complications of Rotator Repair
Like all surgical procedures, rotator repair also comes with a risk for complications. These complications may include:
- Nerve injury
- Chances of infection
- Deltoid detachment
- Tendon re-tears
Rotator Repair in Carmel, IN
When it comes to the success of rotator repair, the experience of the surgeon also matters. At Total Shoulder, our highly experienced team led by Dr. Stephen Jacobsen offers rotator repair to relieve shoulder pain and help restore arm strength. Our shoulder surgeon uses advanced and least-invasive techniques to perform repair surgery so that you can recover faster and have minimal risk for complications.