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All About Rotator Cuff Surgery

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Your rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that hold the joint at the tip of the humerus (upper arm bone) in place at your shoulder. Because it allows you to lift and reach with your arm, it is perhaps the most important component of shoulder movement. Unfortunately, it is also easily damaged with overuse or injury, potentially requiring the need for surgery, which aims to restore pain free movement and functionality to your shoulder.

Signs of a Damaged Rotator Cuff

Shoulder pain does not necessarily mean that you have a torn rotator cuff. However, if you are experiencing pain combined with the list of symptoms below, you should see an orthopaedic specialist to discuss your options.

  • Sharp pain when you lift your arm or reach for things

  • Especially severe pain at night that keeps you from sleeping

  • Excessive weakness in your shoulder

  • These symptoms progressively worsen over time

Recommendations for Rotator Cuff Surgery

Oftentimes, an injured rotator cuff can be healed with nonsurgical methods. However, if there is no improvement after six months, the tear is large (more than 1.5 cm), or the damaged cuff was caused by a recent injury, your doctor will most likely recommend surgery in order to restore pain-free function to your shoulder.

Depending on your specific injury, the surgery will involve removing debris from a recent injury from the cuff, making more room for the rotator cuff tendon by shaving bone, or stitching the tear in the tendon.

The procedure will be performed one of two ways. Optimally, the surgeon will be able to take the less invasive path and enter your shoulder with a very small incision, using a camera and micro instruments to complete the surgery. When the problem is too big to deal with in mini surgery, the surgeon will opt for open surgery, which involves an incision 2-3 inches wide.

After Care

Your personal care instructions will depend largely on your specific injury and your doctor, but you can expect to experience the following over the course of your recovery:

  • Shoulder immobilization with a sling

  • Pain medication and anti-inflammatories

  • Passive shoulder exercises

  • Active exercise

Depending on your injury and the success of the operation, the rehabilitation process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

Outlook

Though the procedure is generally successful in relieving shoulder pain, it will not always restore strength or full movement. Full success is much more likely if you visit your doctor soon after any shoulder injury. The sooner they catch a torn rotator cuff, the more successful the surgery will be. Your results also depend largely on you. Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions exactly, so you can be on your way to pain-free shoulder movement.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, don’t wait to get help! Call 801-747-1020 to make an appointment with Dr. Skedros today.

 

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