When the tendons and muscles of the rotator cuff are overly stretched or damaged, the shoulder may become unstable. Your doctor may recommend surgery 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, your doctor may also suggest surgery.
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 within the thickest part of the tendon is repaired by stitching the two sides back together.
Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is a minimally invasive technique for repairing a damaged rotator cuff. Using an arthroscope, the surgeon repairs the rotator cuff through several small incisions in the shoulder, leading to faster recovery time.
During arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments. Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery.
After surgery, you will begin physical therapy to regain shoulder strength and motion that will help you return to your normal activities.