How is a rotator cuff repaired?
Any of the tendons making up the rotator cuff can tear, with the most common tendon being the supraspinatus muscle/tendon. When this occurs, the tendon no longer fully attaches to the head of the humerus and the shoulder will lose its strength and stability. The most common complaint though is pain. This pain usually radiates into the deltoid and down the arm (sometimes as low as the elbow) and is often associated with night pain. The goal of a rotator cuff repair is to reattach the tendon and restore the strength and stability of the shoulder joint. Depending on the type of tear, there are different treatments options to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Initial non-surgical management of chronic, degenerative rotator cuff tears is the standard of care. Non-surgical rotator cuff treatment can improve function and relieve pain and has been shown to be effective in up to 85% of appropriately indicated patients. The most effective and proven intervention for relieving pain from rotator cuff disease is physical therapy. Dr. Vidal may additionally prescribe rest, activity modification and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate pain. When appropriate, corticosteroid injections can be helpful however, these types of injections are not for every patient or every type of rotator cuff tear. These injections are typically prescribed to relieve pain to allow a patient to effectively rehabilitate the injury.
Despite the success of non-operative management, it is not always the right intervention for all patients. In general, younger patients and patient with acute, traumatic rotator cuff tears are better candidates for surgical repair.