It’s estimated that more than 460,000 rotator cuff surgeries are performed each year in the United States, a statistic that is only expected to grow. These numbers place rotator cuff repairs as the second most common orthopedic soft tissue repair.
There are two populations most at risk of rotator cuff tears: athletes and the elderly. This is because rotator cuff tears occur with repetitive use, aging, or disease.
Types of Rotator Cuff Tears
There is no one-size-fits-all for rotator cuff tears; some are minor and can be managed with rest and physical therapy, whereas others are severe and require surgery. In severe cases, the rotator cuff tear likely results in a limited range of motion in the joint, with many individuals struggling to lift their shoulder over a certain height or move the shoulder joint in a back-and-forth motion.
There is limited evidence suggesting that surgery shows better results than conservative treatments for rotator cuff tears, which is why conservative treatments such as rest and physical therapy are the preferred first option. However, if you have a severe rotator cuff tear that is not getting better with rest and physical therapy, your doctor may recommend rotator cuff repair surgery.
As with all surgical treatments, this is not a decision made lightly, and your doctor will do a thorough evaluation and review of your injury and health history before determining if surgery is the best option for your joint’s long-term health.
At San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, our surgeons typically use arthroscopy techniques to repair the rotator cuff, requiring only a small incision and resulting in a faster recovery.
Through this small incision, your surgeon will reattach the torn tendons in the rotator cuff to the bone using metal anchors or dissolvable sutures, holding the tendons in place as they heal.
All surgeries carry some risks, and those getting a rotator cuff surgery will be placed under anesthesia. It is important to speak to your doctor ahead of time.
Following your surgery, you can go home and rest. You will be given a sling to wear through the healing process, which allows your shoulder to stabilize and prevents additional injury.
Above all else, it is crucial to follow the instructions of your surgeon and physical therapist to avoid pushing your shoulder too far and causing another injury.