The rotator cuff is a set of four small muscles in the shoulder that allow the upper arm to rotate. Injuries to the rotator cuff are found if a person has an accident or does heavy lifting, or can be from normal wear-and-tear and repetitive activities over many years. When the muscles completely tear, it’s actually the tendon piece of the muscle that is pulled off the bone of the upper arm. The way to treat a clean tear off the bone is surgery.
To repair a torn rotator cuff, a surgeon must reattach the tendon back to the bone of the upper arm. It is often performed arthroscopically, meaning the surgeon uses a teeny tiny camera through a small incision to see their work. The surgery takes less than half an hour for the surgeon to complete, and the patient may return home in a sling the same day.
Now for the recovery… It will take between six to eight weeks for the tendon to heal to the bone on average (could be more, could be less depending on the size of the tear). Physical therapy is recommended for patients after rotator cuff surgery for at least 3-4 months. Then it is usually recommended after that process to perform strengthening exercises to start building back to where we were.
Like any surgery or injury, it is different for every case depending on the person’s strength, age, and severity of the injury. With rotator cuff surgery, the good news is that there is a 95% success rate for smaller tears, and that is a great number to be at!
All this talk of shoulder injury got you questioning? Make an appointment with MedAmerica PT for a complimentary consultation and we can get you on track to recovery.