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Rotator Cuff Tears and Rotator Cuff Repair

Posted on: October 4th, 2021 by Our Team

Do you have a rotator cuff tear ?  Many patients come in asking this question.  Do you understand what the rotator cuff is ?  The rotator cuff is actually a group of four muscles that allow you to move your shoulder with incredibly fine precision, and not dislocate with every move! These muscles attached to the shoulder blade and then connect to the arm bone. You cannot see these muscles, as they are deep beneath your deltoid, but provide the strength to let you move your arm normally.

How did I tear my rotator cuff?

The tendons of the rotator cuff can tear when some sort of excessive force is applied to these muscles. Usually, the first tendon to tear is the supraspinatus. This is the tendon on top of the shoulder. Over time, the tear can extend through the rest of the rotator cuff to involve more tendons, further limiting use of the shoulder. The chance for this happening increases with age. Unfortunately, with age, tendons become more brittle throughout the body, especially in the shoulder as they slowly lose their ability to stretch. A classic injury is someone attempting to put a suitcase in an overhead compartment.

Typical symptoms of cuff tears include pain, pain at night, weakness, and the feeling as if you cannot raise your arm. Tears can be very different. It’s hard to compare your tear with a friend’s tear!

What are my treatment options for a rotator cuff tear?

Shoulder PainNot every tear needs surgery. There are many considerations regarding the best treatment. The right kind of rehabilitation, if identified by your physician, might make a huge difference. You may never need to have surgery. There is plenty of research that has proven that good physical therapy can make all the difference. For people who need their rotator cuff to work perfectly, surgery is usually the best step. This procedure is designed to reattach is the tendon back to the bone and allow it to heal properly.

Do I need surgery for my rotator cuff tear?

While there is no simple answer for this question, it is best to see a surgeon well experienced with rotator cuff tears and their repair. Both Dr. DuBois and Dr. Hacker perform rotator cuff repair surgery in San Diego. Making the right decision is between you and your surgeon. In some cases, learning to work around the problem is better than having surgery. In others, restoring as normal function as possible with surgery is your best choice.

How is the surgery performed for a rotator cuff tear?

In most cases, this is an arthroscopic surgery performed through very tiny incisions. This kind of surgery allows the surgeon to look at the torn tendon via a fiber-optic camera and then used specialized instruments to bring the tendon back to its normal position and then sew it down. This is almost always done as an outpatient.

What is the rehabilitation after rotator cuff surgery?

Initially, the rotator cuff tear needs to heal back to the bone. Most surgeons limit your use of your shoulder until this has happened. Once healed, strengthening of the shoulder is allowed. Most of us however, get your shoulder moving right away to prevent scar tissue and stiffness in the future. Overall, this process can take 3 to 5 months for complete healing. Talk to your surgeon about a realistic course after surgery so you understand what to expect

Recovery after rotator cuff repair

Not all rotator cuff tears need surgery

No two patients are ever the same. Talk to your doctor. Learn all you can. Understand your options and realistic expectations for treatment. If you wish to talk to one of us about your shoulder, please contact us today.