The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and form a “cuff” over the upper end of the arm. These muscles aid in lifting and rotating the arms while providing strength, stability and a wide range of motion. Because the rotator cuff is made up of soft tissues, it is prone to injury from falls, heavy lifting or wear and tear. Rotator cuff tears are a common cause of pain and disability among adults.
A torn rotator cuff will typically produce pain, weakness and stiffness in the shoulder area. Reaching overhead or behind your back may become difficult, and you may struggle with daily activities like drying your hair or putting away dishes. Minor rotator cuff tears will often heal on their own with rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and physical therapy. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn tendons.
The purpose of rotator cuff repair surgery is to mend and reattach torn tendons to the bone. This procedure is commonly performed arthroscopically, though open-shoulder surgery is sometimes necessary for more serious injuries. During rotator cuff repair surgery, you will be placed under general anesthesia, allowing you to sleep throughout the entire procedure. Your surgeon will remove any loose or frayed muscle tissue from the edge of the rotator cuff and ensure there is adequate room for the tendons to move. Your surgeon may need to shave down bone or remove bone spurs to prevent tendons from being pinched or irritated. Finally, the torn tendons will be sutured and reattached to the bone (Source: WebMD).
Due to advancements in medical technology, the majority of rotator cuff repairs can now be safely performed in ambulatory surgery centers, or ASCs. These specialized outpatient facilities are fully staffed with highly trained surgical teams, allowing patients to enjoy the same level of care and expertise found in hospitals, but at a fraction of the cost. A study published in Health Affairs found that patients saved anywhere from $363 to $1,000 per procedure by using ASCs instead of hospitals (Source: Fierce Health Finance). In addition to significant savings, patients also enjoy the convenience and personalized level of care that only ASCs can offer.
Rotator cuff injuries are common, but they shouldn’t prevent you from doing what you love. Talk to your doctor about rotator cuff repair surgery and other treatment options that can address your shoulder pain and help you get back to enjoying life again!