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Rotator cuff surgery

Rotator cuff

I have been told I have a rotator cuff injury – what is it?

You will most likely have a tear or an impingement to the four muscles and tendons that fix your arm to the top of your shoulder blade.

Should I consider surgery?

Surgery can repair the damage, meaning you will be able to move your shoulder more comfortably.

Are there any non-surgical alternatives?

Patients who opt not to have surgery might consider alternatives such as changing their activities or physiotherapy for small tears or impingement. Pain can be treated with Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, which also treats inflammation. Steroid and local anaesthetic injections are sometimes offered as a form of pain relief. More extensive injuries are likely to require surgery in order to restore strength to your shoulder.

What is rotator cuff surgery?

The operation takes between three quarters of an hour and one hour and the choice of anaesthetic will be discussed with you. The surgeon aims to repair the damaged or impinged muscle by releasing affected tissue and removing some bone. Rotator cuff repairs are made by surgically stitching the muscle onto the bone. Both operations can be done by arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) though larger repairs might require open surgery.

Recovery time

The expected hospital stay after shoulder surgery is usually a maximum of 24 hours. You will need to have your stitches or clips removed after the first week.

Regular exercise is advised. This helps you to get back to normal activity levels more quickly, though full strength might not return. You should talk to your GP or healthcare professional before resuming exercise.

Sometimes symptoms of shoulder problems will return with time.

Summary

If you have a painful shoulder, the expected benefit of surgery is that it should improve pain levels and allow you to use your shoulder more normally.
 

Acknowledgements: EIDO Healthcare Limited

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