(Rotator Cuff Surgery, Shoulder Surgery)
The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place. It is one of the most important parts of the shoulder. The rotator cuff allows a person to lift his/her arm and reach up. An injury to the rotator cuff, such as a tear, may happen suddenly when falling on an outstretched hand or develop over time due to repetitive activities. Rotator cuff degeneration and tears may also be caused by aging.
If the rotator cuff is injured, it may need to be repaired surgically. This may include shaving off bone spurs that are pinching the shoulder, or repairing torn tendons or muscles in the shoulder. Surgical techniques that may be used to repair a tear of the rotator cuff include arthroscopy, open surgery, or a combination of both. The goal of rotator cuff repair surgery is to help restore the function and flexibility of the shoulder and to relieve the pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip joint, and is made up of three bones:
The upper arm is attached to the shoulder by the rotator cuff, which is a group of muscles and tendons that form a cuff around the shoulder joint. The joint capsule is another non-bone part of the shoulder joint, and is made up of a sheet of thin fibers, allowing for a wide range of motion.
Bursa are fluid-filled sacs located between the rotator cuff and the shoulder blade. They cushion and lubricate the shoulder.
This combination of bones, muscles, and tendons allows you to lift your arm, reach up, and throw.
Injuries to the shoulder are common. Athletes and construction workers often have rotator cuff injuries due to repetitive movement and overuse of the shoulder. The rotator cuff may be damaged from a fall or other injury to the shoulder. Damage may also occur slowly over time. The damage may be due to:
Recurrent pain, limited ability to move the arm, and muscle weakness are the most common symptoms.
If medical treatments are not satisfactory, rotator cuff repair surgery may be an effective treatment. Medical treatments for rotator cuff injury may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Rotator cuff surgery may be performed using an arthroscope. An arthroscope is a small, tube-shaped instrument that is inserted into a joint. It consists of a system of lenses, a small video camera, and a light for viewing. The camera is connected to a monitoring system that allows the physician to view a joint through a very small incision. The arthroscope is often used in conjunction with other tools that are inserted through another incision.
An open repair may be performed if the rotator cuff injury cannot be repaired using arthroscopy. In some cases, a tendon graft and joint replacement may be necessary.
There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend rotator cuff repair.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:
The joint pain may not be relieved by the surgery. You may not recover full range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Nerves or blood vessels in the area of surgery may be injured, resulting in weakness or numbness.
There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.
Rotator cuff repair may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your physician's practices.
Rotator cuff repair may be performed while you are asleep under general anesthesia, or while you are awake under local or regional anesthesia. If regional anesthesia is used, you will have no feeling from your shoulder down. The type of anesthesia will depend upon the specific procedure being performed. Your physician will discuss this with you in advance.
Generally, rotator cuff repair surgery follows this process:
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Your recovery process will vary depending upon the type of anesthesia that is given and the type of surgery that is performed. The circulation and sensation of the arm will be monitored. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home.
You may be given an immobilizer or sling before you go home.
Once you are home, it is important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your physician will give you specific bathing instructions. The stitches or surgical staples will be removed during a follow-up office visit.
Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your physician. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
To help reduce swelling, you may be asked to apply an ice bag to the shoulder several times per day for the first few days. You should keep the sling or immobilizer on as directed by your physician.
Your physician will arrange for an exercise program to help you regain muscle strength, flexibility, and function of your shoulder.
Notify your physician to report any of the following:
You may resume your normal diet unless your physician advises you differently.
You should not drive until your physician tells you to. Other activity restrictions may apply. Full recovery from the surgery may take several months.
Your physician may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. Please consult your physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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