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Rotator Cuff Surgical Treatment

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Learn more about how rotator cuff surgical treatment can restore your range of motion.

Rotator cuff surgical treatment involves reattaching the tendon to your humerus. If you have a partial tear, a surgical debridement may be all that is needed. Torn rotator cuffs are one of the most common causes of pain and disability in adults. The goal of surgical treatment is to rebuild the tendon and restore your full range of motion.

  • When the rotator cuff is torn, your shoulder becomes weak
  • This makes it difficult to do routine daily activities such as getting dressed or brushing your hair

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How Rotator Cuff Surgical Treatment Works

A rotator cuff surgical repair reattaches the tendon to your upper arm. The type of surgery that you need will depend on the size of your tear and how healthy your arm and tendon tissues are. Most surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. While you have rotator cuff surgery, your orthopedic surgeon may also correct other problems such as bone spurs and arthritis of the shoulder. There are three techniques that orthopedic surgeons use for rotator cuff treatment. These are traditional open surgery, arthroscopic surgery, and mini-open surgery.

In a traditional surgery, a three to four-inch incision is made into your shoulder. Your deltoid is detached and the tendon is reattached. This technique is used for large and complex rotator cuff tears. In an arthroscopic repair, the orthopedic surgeon uses a small camera inserted into a small incision in your shoulder. The images from the video camera are shown on a monitor in the operating room to guide the movement of surgical instruments. Several small incisions are made to reattach your tendon. In a mini open surgery, one incision is made and a camera is used to visualize the damage.

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Conditions for Which Rotator Cuff Surgical Treatment Is Used

Rotator cuff surgical treatment is used when one or more of the tendons of your upper arm and shoulder are torn. Most of the tears occur at the head of your humerus, in the supraspinatus muscle and tendon. You may have tendon damage without realizing it, and then engaging in a strenuous physical activity results in tearing of the already weak tendon. The surgery is used for a partial tear of the soft tissue and for a complete rupture of the tendon. If the tendon has completely torn off of the bones, surgery is used to reattach it.

Who Is a Candidate for Rotator Cuff Surgical Treatment?

If you have ongoing or worsening pain in your rotator cuff, your doctor may recommend surgery. Most doctors make this recommendation when non-surgical methods are not helping to resolve your pain. If you are active or athletic and need to lift your arms above your head for work or fitness, surgery is the best option to treat your torn tendon. You may also be a candidate for rotator cuff surgical treatment if you have had pain for six to 12 months, your tear is longer than 1.5 inches, or your pain resulted from a recent, acute trauma.