Services > Upper Extremities: Shoulder/Arm
Rotator Cuff Repair
Rotator Cuff Repair Overview
The Rotator Cuff is a group of four deep shoulder muscles and tendons that rotate and elevate the arm. The
tendons can rupture acutely as in a fall or undergo progressive failure as in repetitive strenuous overhead
activities. Many patients with rotator cuff injuries suffer from pain and weakness. Pain at
night time can be intense and disrupt sleep patterns.
Daytime symptoms can disrupt activities of daily living and cause inability to perform work activities. Many patients
with rotator cuff injuries can improve with physical therapy and activity modifications.
Some patients may require arthroscopic shoulder surgery to reattach the torn end of the tendon back to the
bone. This is performed through small incisions or “portals” using small screw-like suture anchors inserted
into bone. The sutures are passed through the cloth-like tendon and tied down to secure the tendon to bone.
The tendon is usually the weakest part of the repair construct and needs to be protected by keeping the arm
immobilized. An immobilizer or sling is typically worn for 6 weeks after surgery. Early table stretching
exercises are initiated to prevent stiffness. Formal physical therapy is initiated at 4-6
weeks and is individualized based on the level of stiffness and quality of the repair. By 3 months after
surgery motion should be close to normal with progressive strengthening. Patients
should be markedly improved by 6 months at which point they are typically released to full activities.
Patients can continue to see improvement up to a year after surgery. A return
to high-risk activities without ongoing strengthening and potential modification places the repair at
significant risk for failure.
Educational links on Rotator Cuff Injuries :
Rotator Cuff surgical technique animations :