What is a Torn Rotator Cuff and what to expect after Surgery.

“The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and the related muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint and allow you to raise and rotate your arm. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the collarbone (clavicle), and the shoulder blade (scapula). These bones are held together by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the joint capsule. The rotator cuff helps keep the ball of the arm bone seated into the socket of the shoulder blade.

Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon usually involves:

  • Removing loose fragments of tendon, bursa, and other debris from the space in the shoulder where the rotator cuff moves (debridement).
  • Making more room for the rotator cuff tendon so it is not pinched or irritated. If needed, this includes shaving bone or removing bone spurs from the point of the shoulder blade (subacromial smoothing).
  • Sewing the torn edges of the supraspinatus tendon together and to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus).

In open shoulder surgery, a surgeon makes an incision [2 in. (5 cm) to 3 in. (7.6 cm)] in the shoulder to open it and view the shoulder directly while repairing it. A smaller incision can be done with a mini-open procedure that allows the surgeon to reach the affected tendon by splitting the deltoid muscle. This method may reduce your chances of problems from a deltoid injury.

Open-shoulder surgery often requires a short stay in the hospital.

General anesthesia or a nerve block may be used for these types of surgical repair.

Rotator cuff tears can sometimes be repaired with arthroscopic surgery.

Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon usually involves:

Discomfort after surgery may decrease with taking pain medicines prescribed by your doctor.

The arm will be protected in a sling for a defined period of time, especially when at risk of additional injury.

*Physical therapy after surgery is crucial to a successful recovery. A rehabilitation program may include the following:

  • As soon as you awake from anesthesia, you may start doing exercises that flex and extend the elbow, wrist, and hand.
  • The day after surgery, if your doctor allows, passive exercises that move your arm may be done about 3 times a day (a machine or physical therapist may help the joint through its range of motion).
  • Active exercise (you move your arm yourself) and stretches, with the assistance of a physical therapist, may start 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. This depends on how bad your tear was and how complex the surgical repair was.
  • Strengthening exercises, beginning with light weights and progressing to heavier weights, can start a few months after surgery.”

Source: 

William, B., & Timothy, B. (2011, November 11). Rotator Cuff Repair. Retrieved from                                                 http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/rotator-cuff-repair

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