The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons deep within the shoulder that control the fine motions of the shoulder joint and are involved in all shoulder activities particularly reaching and lifting. Often times, rotator cuff injuries involve inflammation within or around the tendons resulting in tendonitis and/or bursitis. This type of injury can be treated successfully with a course of physical therapy and/or injection.
The tendons of the rotator cuff can sometimes tear off their attachment in the shoulder. This can be “acute” after an injury such as a fall, or “chronic” which occurs slowly over time. This may cause significant pain and weakness. A MRI is often obtained to visualize the tendons to determine if there is a tear and how extensive it may be.
Rotator cuff tears may become less painful and less limiting through rehabilitation with a physical therapist, but many times, they require surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone.
Surgery can be done either using minimally invasive arthroscopic technique or through an “open” incision. The orthopedic surgeons at Ministry Medical Group perform this procedure arthroscopically. The procedure is done as an outpatient. The patient is typically placed into a sling for 2-6 weeks. Therapy begins around week 2 and patients are taken through a step-wise rehab program that gives the tissues time to heal, regain range of motion, and ultimately strength and function. It may take up to a total of 4-6 months to completely recover.