Rotator Cuff Surgery: Understand Risks and Complications

Rotator Cuff SurgeryWhat is a Rotator Cuff surgery?

A rotator cuff injury occurs when the supporting tendons in the shoulder joint get severely damaged. If the non-surgical methods of treating a rotator cuff injury fail to correct the problem then a rotator cuff surgery is used to remedy it and regain strength and movement in the injured shoulder.

When do I need a Rotator Cuff surgery?

A rotator cuff surgery is required when:

  • An injury causes the rotator cuff in the shoulder joint to get torn.
  • Shoulder joint gets weak due to a complete rotator cuff injury.
  • Physical therapy and other alternative medical procedures have failed to repair a rotator cuff injury that is more than 3-6 months old.
  • You require a fully functional and strong shoulder in your daily activities or profession.

What happens in a Rotator Cuff surgery?

A conventional rotator cuff surgery requires the doctor to:

  • Remove the broken pieces of the bones, bursa, and tendon from the shoulder where the rotator cuff is located, this is called debridement.
  • Sculpt the bones in the shoulder or removing jutting bone pieces from around the shoulder blade to make more space for the free movement of the rotator cuff.
  • Joining the supraspinatus tendon back to the humerus (upper arm bone) and together when severely torn.

Another less invasive form of rotator cuff surgery is the arthroscopic form of surgical procedure. This is done through making a number of smaller incisions to insert the arthroscope (small tube-like surgical device) into the shoulder joint and perform the required surgical steps through the use of tiny surgical instruments attached to the arthroscope.

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Are there any risks or complications associated with Rotator Cuff surgery?

As with any major surgical procedure, there is a risk of some blood loss in the rotator cuff surgery, however, the surgeon will administer appropriate blood coagulation medicines to help decrease excessive blood loss.

Apart from this, there are slight chances of:

  • Infection – there are slight chances of an infection occurring in the shoulder joint region or the incision. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics after the surgery to reduce the chances of external infection from occurring.
  • Pain – The severe injury, as well as the repaired tendon, might become painful for some time after the surgery. The doctor usually prescribes certain painkillers to alleviate the pain when it is of a higher degree.
  • Vascular Damage – The damage to the nerves or blood vessels around the operating region is very rare. However, in such a case the doctor will suggest the best way repair this damage.

The injuries caused to the shoulder joint are the major cause for choosing a rotator cuff surgery to repair the damage. This surgical procedure is done either in the conventional way (open type surgery) or the less invasive arthroscopic way. The success of the repair and regaining strength and movement in the shoulder joint after the surgery depends mainly upon the extent of damage suffered by the tendon as well as the overall natural healing capacity of the body.

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