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The Patient’s Guide to Shoulder Arthroscopy For Rotator Cuff Repair

  • Dec 19 2019

Rotator cuff injuries can be debilitating and affect daily activities, especially for athletes and active individuals. Thankfully, there’s a revolutionary surgery option that offers effective pain relief and faster recovery – shoulder arthroscopy. This minimally invasive procedure has transformed the field of rotator cuff repair, providing patients with a less invasive alternative to traditional surgery. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of shoulder arthroscopy and explore how it can restore your shoulder’s functionality and improve your quality of life.

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

The rotator cuff is made up of tendons and muscles that surround the bones of the joint, almost like a basket. This structure provides stability and allows for various types of movements. A rotator cuff tear occurs when one or more of the tendons that make up the rotator cuff become damaged or completely torn. This can happen as a result of a traumatic injury, repetitive overhead motions, or degenerative changes in the tendon over time.

There are four muscles that, along with the tendons, form the rotator cuff. They are:

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Teres minor

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Chronic rotator cuff injuries often develop gradually over time as a result of repetitive stress on the shoulder. This can include activities such as overhead lifting, throwing, or repetitive arm movements in sports like tennis or baseball. Overuse can lead to degeneration of the tendons and muscles of the rotator cuff, making them more susceptible to tearing or fraying.

Acute Rotator Cuff Injuries

Acute rotator cuff injuries occur suddenly and are often the result of a singular traumatic event. This can happen when there is a sudden impact or forceful pull on the shoulder, such as lifting a heavy object or experiencing a fall. These injuries may include partial or complete tears in the tendons or muscles of the rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear is essential for prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some common symptoms associated with a rotator cuff tear:

  • Shoulder Pain: One of the primary symptoms of a rotator cuff tear is persistent, deep shoulder pain. The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp, depending on the severity of the tear. The pain is often worsened by specific movements, such as lifting or reaching overhead.
  • Weakness: A rotator cuff tear can lead to weakness in the affected shoulder. You may notice difficulty lifting objects, particularly heavy ones, or experience a loss of strength when performing daily activities that involve the use of the arm.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Another symptom of a rotator cuff tear is a limited range of motion in the shoulder. You may find it challenging to raise your arm above your head, rotate your shoulder, or perform tasks that require reaching or throwing.
  • Shoulder Stiffness: If you have a rotator cuff tear, you may experience stiffness in the shoulder joint. This can make it difficult to perform simple movements and may result in decreased flexibility.
  • Clicking or Popping Sensation: Some individuals with a rotator cuff tear may hear or feel a clicking or popping sensation in the shoulder joint. This can occur during certain movements or even at rest.
  • Nighttime Pain: Rotator cuff tear pain can often be worse at night, making it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. The pain may disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling fatigued.

It’s important to note that the severity and specific symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can vary from person to person. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect a rotator cuff tear, it is crucial to consult with an orthopedic doctor for an accurate diagnosis and review appropriate treatment options. Early intervention can help prevent further damage and facilitate the healing process.

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that uses a small camera, called an arthroscope, to examine and repair the shoulder. Shoulder arthroscopy involves three main incisions: the posterior portal, the anterior portal, and the lateral portal. The posterior portal is used to insert the arthroscope, while the anterior and lateral portals are used to insert surgical instruments. The surgeon will use these instruments to repair any damaged tissues or remove any debris from the shoulder joint. This procedure is less invasive than traditional open surgery and offers many benefits to patients.

Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery for Rotator Cuff Repair

Minimally Invasive

One of the main benefits of shoulder arthroscopy for rotator cuff repair is that it is a minimally invasive approach. The small incisions result in less pain, minimal scarring, and reduced risk of infection compared to traditional open surgery.

Faster Recovery Time

Due to the minimally invasive nature of shoulder arthroscopy, the recovery time for rotator cuff repair is typically shorter compared to open surgery. Patients experience less pain, have faster healing, and regain shoulder function more quickly. Due to recovering faster than traditional open surgery, patients can typically resume their daily activities within a few days and return to sports or other physical activities within a few weeks.

Precise Repair

Shoulder arthroscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the torn rotator cuff and surrounding structures in great detail. This enables them to precisely repair the tear, reattach the tendon to the bone, and remove any impeding structures.

Improved Shoulder Function

By repairing the torn rotator cuff, shoulder arthroscopy can help restore shoulder strength and stability. This allows patients to regain full range of motion and return to their normal activities, including sports and recreational activities.

Is Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery Right For Me?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a valuable surgical technique that offers numerous benefits, including a minimally invasive approach, precise repair, faster recovery time, and improved shoulder function. If you are experiencing symptoms of a rotator cuff tear, such as rotator cuff pain, stiffness in the shoulder, or limited range of motion, consult with the orthopedic surgeons at SIO to determine if shoulder arthroscopy is the right treatment option for you. With this advanced procedure, you can regain optimal shoulder health and resume your active lifestyle in no time.

SIO’s Orthopedic Surgeons Are Experts in Rotator Cuff Repair

If you have questions about shoulder arthroscopy, rotator cuff surgery options,  or any other orthopedic concerns, the orthopedic surgeons and doctors of South Island Orthopedics are experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions. The board-certified orthopedic specialists at SIO are committed to providing personalized orthopedic care to New Jersey residents. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic specialists and begin your journey toward a pain-free life.

Posted in: Neck/Back & Shoulder