Rotator Cufff Tear

Not all rotator cuff tears require surgery.

rotatorMany patients are content with their progress following a non-operative treatment plan. Patients who have been unable to regain lost motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles sufficiently may need a rotator cuff repair. This is often the case for the younger, more active patients who want to address continued weakness following physical therapy.

Rotator cuff repairs can be performed either arthroscopically or with open incisions.

What types of complications may occur?

Complication rates after surgery are generally low.  Infection tends to occur a little less often when arthroscopic techniques are used. Risks of major bleeding or nerve damage are extremely small. Postoperative stiffness is the major complication of both impingement and rotator cuff tears.

Postoperative treatment - rehabilitation

Incisions must be kept dry for two or three days after surgery. If you have stitches they are usually removed 10 - 12 days after surgery.

Rotator cuff recovery requires more supervision. In order to achieve a full and rapid recovery, surgery should be performed as soon as the patient has full range of motion and has gained good muscle strength from a physical therapy program started when the injury is first detected. After surgery, the patient follows a closely monitored program:

  • Therapy is carefully controlled in the first 6 - 12 weeks while the tendons heal back to the bone.
  • The first goal is to regain full motion within 3 months after surgery. A therapist will assist in the early stages with gradual recovery of motion.
  • During the first 6 weeks, there is no active use of the shoulder in order to protect the surgical repair.
  • Once initial healing is achieved, a progressive stretching and strengthening program should begin.
  • Full recovery can take more than 6 months. Some patients may require more time to regain muscle strength and complete the healing process.