Rotator Cuff Surgery
Your rotator cuff is actually four tendons that attach your upper arm bone (humerus) to your shoulder blade. With age and a lot of use, these tendons gradually wear down. Rotator cuffs are also easily injured during sports such as tennis or baseball. Nearly two million Americans see a doctor about rotator cuff tears each year, making it one of the most common causes of pain and shoulder disability.
When one of the rotator cuff tendons tears, the simplest tasks—combing your hair or reaching up for a plate—become difficult and painful. Other times the tendons haven’t torn, but rather tendinitis , inflammation, and impingement on surrounding bone spurs causes pain.
Rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections can help ease pain and improve function for many people. Surgery is recommended when pain and weakness persist, or if your tear was caused by sudden injury.
Surgery for Rotator Cuff Tears
At the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, our orthopedists are skilled at restoring full shoulder strength and function in people disabled by partial or full rotator cuff tears.
We specialize in arthroscopy, the least invasive way to repair a rotator cuff. The surgeon inserts a small camera into the shoulder joint to guide surgery with tiny instruments. Because the incisions are so small, patients recover faster than from traditional surgery.
Alternatively, at time open or mini-open rotator cuff surgery may be recommended so the surgeon can view the tendons directly, instead of on a video monitor.
After surgery, you need to wear a sling for a few weeks to keep your arm immobile. You’ll begin carefully supervised rehabilitation and physical therapy within four to six weeks. Most people have a full recovery within four to six months.
Find out more about rotator cuff tears and repair.