Rotator Cuff Surgery

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that come together to provide stability to the shoulder. It assists in rotating and lifting the arm, and also keeps the shoulder in place during such movements.

Rotator cuff tears are very common shoulder injuries and can happen for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, the rotator cuff slowly tears due to damage and wear over time. However, the rotator cuff can also tear due to sudden, acute injuries.

Because the rotator cuff is integral to moving the shoulder, a tear in one of the muscles can cause significant weakness and limited range of motion.

At Orthopedic Specialists of San Diego, Dr. Ralph Rynning, Dr. Mark Jacobson, and Dr. Brooke Ballard offer treatment for rotator cuff tears, including rotator cuff surgery. If you think your rotator cuff may be torn and would like an examination, please call our office at 619-286-9480.

Could You Have a Torn Rotator Cuff?

A physical examination and imaging tests are usually needed to diagnose a torn rotator cuff. However, if you can answer “yes” to any of these symptoms, you should schedule an orthopedic exam.

  • Does shoulder pain persist at night or while at rest, especially if lying on the affected shoulder?
  • Is it painful to lift or lower your arm, or with other movement of your shoulder?
  • When you attempt to raise or rotate your arm, does your shoulder feel weak?
  • Do you feel or hear a grating or crackling sound when moving your shoulder?

In some cases, rotator cuff tears do not cause pain. In other cases, symptoms are mild to begin with and get increasingly worse over time. If you feel symptoms worsening, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery

In some cases, rotator cuff tears can be treated with nonsurgical methods like rest, medications, physical therapy, activity modification, and steroid injections. However, nonsurgical treatment is not always helpful in relieving symptoms. Nonsurgical treatment also does not prevent the tear from getting larger over time, and your ability to participate in certain activities may be limited.

Rotator cuff repair surgery can help to restore strength and function in the shoulder. Depending on the size and complexity of the tear, there are a couple of different surgical options available.

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is a minimally-invasive approach to rotator cuff repair. During this procedure, your surgeon inserts a small camera called an arthroscope into the shoulder. The camera displays images of the shoulder on a monitor so that your surgeon can view and repair the rotator cuff without having to make a large incision. Instead, your surgeon can repair the rotator cuff through a few small incisions.

The advantage of an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is that it can typically be done on an outpatient basis, so an overnight hospital stay is not required. Smaller incisions also tend to result in quicker recovery times and less blood loss during the procedure.

Open Rotator Cuff Repair

In some cases, including large and/or complex rotator cuff tears, a traditional open approach may be needed. During an open rotator cuff repair, your surgeon makes a larger incision and detaches one of the shoulder muscles to view the tear directly, rather than through a camera.

This approach may be used if more complex reconstruction is needed, such as a tendon transfer to strengthen the rotator cuff.

Recovery from Rotator Cuff Surgery

You will likely need to wear a sling for at least a few weeks after surgery to immobilize the shoulder while it heals. When it is safe to begin moving the arm, physical therapy and exercise will help you regain strength and function in the shoulder.

Full recovery from rotator cuff surgery can take several months. Many patients who have undergone rotator cuff repair surgery have less shoulder pain and improved strength in the shoulder after recovery.

Rotator Cuff Surgery in San Diego, CA

At Orthopedic Specialists of San Diego, our board-certified surgeons treat a full range of orthopedic injuries, including rotator cuff tears. If you think your rotator cuff may be torn and would like to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Rynning or Dr. Jacobson please contact our office at 619-286-9480 to set up an appointment. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about rotator cuff surgery.