Rotator Cuff Problem: Do You Need Surgery?
Article featured on WebMD, Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on May 16, 2021
What Causes Rotator Cuff Problems
Your rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in your shoulder. It helps you lift and rotate your arm. It also helps keep your shoulder joint in place. But sometimes, the rotator cuff tendons tear or get pinched by the bones around them. An injury, like falling on your arm, can cause this to happen. But wear and tear over time can take its toll on your shoulder, too. The pain can be severe.
Home care can treat many rotator cuff problems. Your doctor will tell you to rest your shoulder joint and ice the area. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease your pain and swelling while your rotator cuff heals. Physical therapy will help restore your shoulder strength.
What About Surgery?
If you’re not getting any relief with these steps, surgery may be the next option for you.
You may need surgery if:
- Your shoulder hasn’t improved after 6 to 12 months
- You’ve lost a lot of strength in your shoulder and find it painful to move
- You have a tear in your rotator cuff tendon
- You’re active and rely on your shoulder strength for your job or to play sports
What Type of Surgery Do I Need?
Surgery can relieve your pain and restore function to your shoulder. Some are done on an outpatient basis. For others, you may need to stay in a hospital.
The most common types are:
Arthroscopic repair. After making one or two very small cuts in your skin, a surgeon will insert a tiny camera called an arthroscope and special, thin tools into your shoulder. These will let them see which parts of your rotator cuff are damaged and how best to fix them.
Open tendon repair. This surgery has been around a long time. It was the first technique used to repair the rotator cuff. If you have a tear that’s very large or complex, your surgeon may choose this method.
Recovery from arthroscopic surgery is typically quicker than open tendon repair. Since open tendon repair is more involved, you may also have more pain right afterwards.
No matter which surgery you have, a full recovery will take time. You should expect to be in a sling for about 6 weeks. This protects your shoulder and gives your rotator cuff time to heal. Driving a car will be off limits for at least a month.
The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.
Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.
Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.
If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209