A Simple Overview of Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
If you have a rotator cuff injury, everyday activities may become difficult. Simple actions like combing your hair or tucking in your shirt can be painful, and raising your arm above your head may be downright impossible. Although symptoms depend on the severity of the injury, they commonly include:
- Shoulder pain when raising or lowering your arm
- Pain when you put pressure on the affected shoulder
- Difficulty sleeping on your side due to shoulder pain
- Weakness or stiffness in the injured shoulder
Rotator cuff injuries can occur for a variety of reasons. They are often the result of repetitive strain. Any job or activity that requires repeated overhand motions, such as painting or pitching a baseball, can lead to this type of injury. Sudden, forceful arm movements—such as throwing your arm up or trying to catch yourself during a fall—are also common causes. In other cases, a rotator cuff injury may emerge due to years of wear and tear.
In this blog, the fellowship-trained shoulder specialists at NY Orthopedics’ Hand, Wrist, Elbow & Shoulder Center will provide a simple overview of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair – a surgery that may be recommended if you have experienced a severe rotator cuff injury.
What is arthroscopy?
To comprehend how an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair works, it’s important to understand what arthroscopy is. “Arthro” means having to do with a joint and “scopy” refers to being viewed or observed through a scope—a tiny camera mounted on a tube, which can be inserted into the body. So, in simple terms, arthroscopy is defined as looking at the interior of a joint via a camera inserted through a small incision. Using this technique, the camera image is transmitted to a television screen so an orthopedic surgeon can closely examine the joint in great detail. Arthroscopy is used both for surgical procedures (to make repairs) as well as for diagnostic purposes (to see what kind of injury has actually occurred).
When is arthroscopic rotator cuff repair recommended?
Not all rotator cuff injuries require surgery, particularly if they’re treated early when symptoms first appear. However, you may be advised to have surgery if you’ve had symptoms for several months that have not improved with non-surgical treatment, or if you have suffered a severe rotator cuff tear. Surgery may also be recommended if it’s a recent, acute injury or if your daily activities require you to do a lot of overhead reaching.
What does an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair involve?
There are numerous types of rotator cuff repair surgeries. The shoulder specialists at NY Orthopedics will recommend the appropriate procedure depending upon the type of injury you have and your unique needs.
Arthroscopic repair is the least invasive form of surgical repair, and involves three to four small incisions in the upper arm near the shoulder joint. The arthroscope is inserted through one incision, and small surgical tools are inserted through others. The surgeon then uses the camera image to guide the surgical tools and repair the damaged tissue.
Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair offers several benefits over traditional open shoulder surgery, which may include:
- Fewer complications
- Less postoperative pain
- Faster recovery time
While proper healing and rehabilitation takes time, the arthroscopic procedure usually allows you to return to work, athletics, and daily activities faster than conventional surgery.
How long will recovery take after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair?
While the time frame varies from person to person, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair typically means a recovery period of several months, with immobilization directly following surgery and a guided physical therapy program starting after 2-4 weeks. Most people have a functional range of motion and adequate strength for daily activities by 3 months after surgery and will continue to improve for 6 to 9 more months.
Looking for an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgeon in NY?
Your daily activities don’t have to be limited by the pain of a rotator cuff injury. Schedule a consultation at one of NY Orthopedics’ numerous practice locations to get more details about arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and to learn whether you are a candidate for this procedure.