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Everything You Need to Know About Rotator Cuff Surgery

When you have a torn rotator cuff, it can be painful and limit movement in the shoulder. Once you are diagnosed, conservative treatments are usually recommended before surgery. 

So what might the physician recommend? Often it is advised to ice the area regularly, rest, try over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, and start a physical therapy program for strength. Steroid injections can also be effective for many patients. 

Most patients respond well to conservative treatments. 80% of patients find relief and do not require a surgical intervention. 

But what if conservative measures are not successful? Sometimes the injury is severe and lasts for several months. In such cases, our Raleigh Orthopedic surgeons at our outpatient orthopedic surgery center can offer surgical treatment options.

outpatient orthopedic surgery center

When Should I Consider Rotator Cuff Surgery

Surgery may be done to prevent the tear from worsening. The following are reasons surgery may be recommended: 

  • Shoulder symptoms that have lasted six months or longer
  • A tear caused by trauma or a recent injury. 
  • Athletes who use the shoulder for sports such as golf, baseball, or swimming
  • If you have a job that requires frequent movement of the shoulder
  • Impairment in movement or weakness in the shoulder

What types of Rotator Cuff Surgery are there?

There are two options to repair a rotator cuff surgically. Arthroscopic repair or open tendon repair. 

Arthroscopic Repair 

The surgeon makes two small cuts into the shoulder. A tiny camera is used and inserted through one of the cuts while the surgeon uses tools through the other to repair. The method allows the surgeon to view the tear and damage so they can repair the shoulder. 

Open Tendon Repair

An open tendon repair is not as common as an arthroscopic repair. It may still be used as an option for large or complex repairs. 

With an arthroscopic repair, the surgeon may repair with a “regional block,” which numbs the arm and shoulder, but you stay awake during the surgery. An arthroscopic repair is usually a better option as recovery is faster and there is less pain than an open tendon repair. 

What Should I Expect After Surgery

After surgery, expect that you will likely need to wear a sling for a couple of weeks. The sling allows for necessary rest and time to heal. 

Avoid driving for at least a month after you have the surgery or until advised by your physician. 

You may be prescribed pain medication to take as prescribed, but transitioning to over-the-counter medication is ideal due to the risk of addiction to opioids. Understand that it may take several months for the pain to subside regardless of the surgical method used to repair your shoulder. 

Physical Therapy is very important after surgery. A physical therapist will teach you the best exercises to help you gain back strength and mobility. It is essential to practice the exercises at home to get results. 

Sometimes it can take up to 6 months for a rotator cuff to heal. However, by following the recommendations of the surgeons and physical therapist, your recovery time may be expedited.

The following is commonly seen following a rotator cuff procedure, but is not guaranteed. Your surgeon will advise and instruct on what to expect and recover.

raleigh orthopedic surgeon

Is Rotator Cuff Surgery an Outpatient Procedure?

Rotator cuff surgery can be performed at an Orthopedic Surgery Center. If you are looking for an outpatient orthopedic surgery center, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced staff can assist with answering questions or concerns before or after your rotator cuff surgery. The Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, NC, is committed to providing you with world-class services during your treatment. Your care will at all times be physician-directed and patient-focused.

You are not only a patient to us. You are an individual with exceptional circumstances, requirements, and needs. Our Board Certified doctors, fellowship-trained surgeons, and other staff are devoted to bringing this standpoint to patient care and working every day to fulfill our promise of bringing you back to the lifestyle and activities you love. We provide comprehensive and specialized care for a wide variety of orthopedic conditions. 

If you would like more information, please feel free to give us a call at 919-719-3070


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.