The rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and tendons that covers the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) and holds it in place in the shoulder joint. It also allows the arm to rotate at the shoulder joint. When the rotator cuff is torn, it typically causes severe pain and restricts arm motion. If nonsurgical treatments are ineffective, surgery may be required to repair the injured area.
There are typically three options for surgical rotator cuff repair:
- Open Repair—In this procedure, an incision is made in the shoulder, through which the surgeon is able to view and repair the affected tendons.
- Arthroscopic Repair—An arthroscopy involves the insertion of a tiny camera (arthroscope) into the area to be repaired. The camera’s images are then used to allow the surgeon to guide miniature surgical instruments to make the repair. This has the advantage of requiring a series of small incisions rather than a large one.
- Mini-Open Repair—This procedure is a combination of the two above, with an arthroscope used to assess the injury and a small incision made through which the surgeon repairs the tendons.
Rotator cuff repair is typically a minor surgical procedure that can be done on an outpatient basis. As with any surgery, you will typically have to undergo a recuperation process involving follow-up care and physical therapy, depending on your particular situation.