You might need rotator cuff surgery if tears in your shoulder limit arm movement or cause pain. Although treatment for a rotator cuff injury doesn’t always require surgery, in the event that it does, there are things you need to know. Luckily we have come up with a list to help you understand the procedure and ease your worries.
Must-See Questions For Rotator Cuff Surgery Answered
What is Rotator Cuff Surgery?
Rotator cuff surgery is the procedure of repairing a torn rotator cuff often involving reattaching a tendon back to the head of the humerus. Partial tears may only need a trimming or smoothing procedure known as debridement. Complete tears require stitching the tendon to its original position on the humerus.
What are the Different Surgical Options for Rotator Cuff Surgery?
There are three common techniques for rotator cuff repair (open repair, arthroscopic, mini-open repair):
- Open Repair – An incision several centimeters long is typical if the tear is complex or large. The surgeon makes an incision over the shoulder, detaching one of the shoulder muscles to get better access and visibility of the torn tendon. Then, the surgeon removes any bone spurs. This may be the best choice if the tear is complex or large or if additional repairs are also needed.
- All-Arthroscopic Repair – The surgeon will insert a small camera into the shoulder joint. This allows the surgeon to guide small instruments and make the necessary repairs. The surgical instruments and arthroscope are thin leaving smaller incisions than what you would get from open surgery. This treatment technique is more often than not an outpatient procedure and is also the least invasive form of treatment for the rotary cuff.
- Mini-Open Repair – This procedure uses newer instruments and technology for repair through a 3-5 cm incision. The technique makes use of arthroscopy to check and treat the damage of the structures within the affected joint. This negates the need for detaching the shoulder muscle. Once the arthroscope has been used, the surgeon makes repairs to the rotator cuff through the small incision.
How Long Does It Take To Recover from Rotator Cuff Surgery?
The recovery time for arthroscopic surgery is usually faster than open repair surgery. Please note that any surgery will take time for a full recovery. You will probably need to wear a sling for the first 6 weeks after the surgery to give the rotator cuff time to heal and protect the shoulder. Recovery from rotator cuff surgery has its challenges, but most people are able to function normally within 6 months.
How Much Does Rotator Cuff Surgery Cost?
The average cost was $50,302.25 a patient, but patients who went to specialists immediately after the injury had an average cost of $25,870.64. Having to pay more is the downside of not having rotator cuff surgery immediately after it’s recommended.
Rotator Cuff Surgery Pain?
Pain will be felt after surgery and during the healing process. Healthcare professionals will work with you for pain management after rotator cuff surgery and may prescribe medication as a short-term solution. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and a local anesthetic may be used in combination for pain relief.
What Is The Common Outcome For Rotator Cuff Surgery?
Majority of the patients who underwent the surgery reported an increase in shoulder strength and a decline in pain after the surgery. The different surgical repair techniques (mini-open, open, and arthroscopic) all have similar results in terms of improved strength and pain relief. The surgeon’s expertise is a crucial factor in obtaining the best results.
What are Some Possible Complications for Rotator Cuff Surgery?
A small number of patients experience complications after surgery. Normally, surgery has its own risks such as unexpected reaction to anesthesia and blood loss.
Here are the common complications for rotator cuff surgery:
- Nerve injury happens to nerves that activate the shoulder.
- Infection may occur, but antibiotics are given to the patient during the surgery to minimize risk.
- Deltoid detachment because the muscle in the shoulder is detached during open repairs, and stitched back to its original position. You must be careful and protect this area after surgery and rehabilitation for it to heal.
- Stiffness may occur but participating in rehabilitation early lessens the chances of permanent stiffness or motion loss.
- Tendon re-tear may occur for all types of repair. Larger tears have a higher risk of re-tear. Patients suffering from re-tear do not always need surgery and may not experience decreased function or pain.
What Factors Could Lower the Success Rate of the Rotator Cuff Surgery?
- Large tears
- Low tissue or tendon quality
- Age of 65 years old or older
- Smoking or use of other nicotine products
- Lack of compliance with the patient in regards to restrictions and rehabilitation after the surgery
When Is Rotator Cuff Surgery Necessary?
Surgery may become an option if the pain does not improve after implementing nonsurgical methods. Being active and using your arms for sports or work may also cause the doctor to recommend surgery.
There are other factors that make surgery a viable option for treatment:
- Symptoms last for 6-12 months
- If the cause of the tear was a recent injury
- Significant loss of function and strength in the shoulder
- A larger than 3cm tear and good tendon tissue quality in the surrounding area
Check out this amazing rotator cuff surgery video clip from Nucleus Medical Media to learn more about the procedure:
In the end, treatment for damage to the rotator cuff must be swiftly, or it may get worse and cost more to treat. Learning more about the procedure may help in increasing the success rate of your surgery. Like all surgeries, there is always a risk. This is why it is important to get an experienced healthcare professional to evaluate your condition. Be sure to comply with the instructions given by your healthcare professional to avoid complications.
What advice do you have for anyone undergoing rotator cuff surgery? Tell us in the comments section below!