Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most often involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of humerus (upper arm bone). A partial tear, however, may need only a trimming or smoothing procedure called a debridement. A complete tear is repaired by stitching the tendon back to its original site on the humerus.
The rotator cuff tendons cover the head of the humerus (upper arm bone), helping you to raise and rotate your arm.
We may offer surgery as an option for a torn rotator cuff if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods. Continued pain is the main indication for surgery. If you are very active and use your arms for overhead work or sports, we may also suggest surgery.
Other signs that surgery may be a good option for you include:
Front (left) and overhead (right) views of the tendons that form the rotator cuff. The blue arrows indicate a full-thickness tear in the supraspinatus tendon, the most common location for rotator cuff tears.
The majority of patients report improved shoulder strength and less pain after surgery for a torn rotator cuff. Most patients have functional range of motion and adequate strength by six months after surgery. Recovery can be a slow process but rehabilitation is key towards successful outcome.
Each surgical repair technique (open, mini-open, and arthroscopic) has similar results in terms of pain relief, improvement in strength and function, and patient satisfaction.