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Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy for Rotator Cuff Repair

Are there any benefits to using shoulder arthroscopy to repair a rotator cuff tear?

There is a reason that arthroscopy is done more often than any other orthopedic procedure being performed today. It hasn’t been all that long since the only option for diagnosing and repairing problems in our joints required surgeons to cut them open and physically move everything around to see what was causing the problem and then attempt to fix it. Arthroscopy changed all of that.

Arthro was the Greek word for “joint” and skopein meant “to look”. We combined them to create arthroscopy, which literally means “to look within the joint”. This has radically transformed the way joint issues are treated. 

Arthroscopy allows surgeons to look inside the joint without cutting through muscles, tendons and other types of tissue. Requiring only a small incision, a tiny fiber-optic camera is inserted into the joint and it sends images to a video monitor. The surgeon then uses these images for making a diagnosis or to guide actual repairs. This is done by making one or more additional small incisions through which extremely thin instruments are inserted.  

The Benefits of a Shoulder Arthroscopy

A rotator cuff tear is a fairly common shoulder injury. The muscles and tendons that join together to stabilize and support the shoulder joint are referred to as the rotator cuff. They are structured in a way to not only hold the joint firmly in the shoulder socket but also to facilitate the types of movements that we call upon the shoulder to make. 

The shoulder joint is one of the body’s most complex joints, allowing more flexibility and range of motion than any of the other joints. As with most things in life, however, there is a cost versus benefit feature to this arrangement. While a very strong joint, all of that additional movement potential is possible because the shoulder socket is more shallow than the other major joints, like the hip and the knee. This allows for more range of motion but also makes the shoulder joint less stable and more susceptible to injury. 

One of the most common injuries to the shoulder joint is a rotator cuff tear. Every year, more than 2 million people in the U.S. see their healthcare professionals due to rotator cuff injuries. 

A torn rotator cuff may be the result of some sort of trauma or injury or it may be due to repetitive motion and overuse. Athletes are very prone to rotator cuff injuries. A rotator cuff tear may involve one of the muscles being damaged or frayed, or there may be a partial or complete tear of one of the tendons. Both can cause pain, swelling and marked loss of range of motion in the joint. 

Treatment for rotator cuff tears will vary with each individual and be based on the extent of the damage. Initially, your doctor will likely suggest medications for pain and inflammation and possibly physical therapy. If this does not prove adequate, surgery may be recommended. The good news is that, with arthroscopic surgery, not only is there an excellent chance for a return of full range of motion, there will be a shorter and less painful recovery period, as well as less noticeable scarring. 

If you have questions about rotator cuff injuries or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of South Island Orthopedics are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here

Posted in: Neck/Back & Shoulder