The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body, but that very flexibility makes it prone to injury and wear. Many problems are caused by repeated overhead motions for a long period of time. Athletes and do-it-yourselfers are especially vulnerable to overuse problems—including torn rotator cuffs. This can cause serious shoulder pain and weakness, and make it difficult to perform even simple tasks like lifting groceries or getting dressed.
If a severely injured shoulder is keeping you from living like you used to, you may be a candidate for rotator cuff surgery. At Kentucky River, orthopedic surgeons specialize in arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, a minimally invasive option that can help get your shoulder, and life, back in motion.
About Rotator Cuff Injuries
An injury to the rotator cuff—the group of muscles and tendons that keep your shoulder in place—can happen suddenly on the playing field or at work, develop gradually or simply occur as a result of aging.
Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
- Recurrent pain, especially with certain activities
- Pain that prevents you from sleeping on your injured side
- Grating or cracking sounds when moving your arm
- Limited ability to move your arm
- Muscle weakness
If your symptoms and tear are mild, surgeons will usually first recommend nonsurgical options, including rest, physical therapy or anti-inflammatory injections. But, if the pain worsens and continues to limit your active life, we may suggest surgery to help restore mobility and provide the lasting relief you need.
Arthroscopic Repair: Better Precision, Less Incision
In the past, surgery to repair the rotator cuff has been done through a large shoulder incision, and the muscle over the rotator cuff was separated. But newer, arthroscopic techniques, like those we use at Kentucky River, can be done with just a few small incisions, with minimal disruption to surrounding tissue.
The procedure involves inserting specialized, miniature instruments, including a small camera called an arthroscope. The camera displays the image of the joint on a large monitor, allowing your surgeon to pinpoint and repair the damaged area.
Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair may offer you a variety of benefits compared to open surgery, including:
- Less post-operative pain
- Less scarring
- Fewer complications
- Faster healing time
- Easier rehabilitation
- More shoulder flexibility and function
- Quicker return to the life you love
We usually perform arthroscopy on an outpatient basis, allowing you to leave the hospital the same day and recover comfortably at home.
Rehabilitation to Speed Healing
Following surgery, physical and occupational therapists will work closely with you to create a custom rehabilitation plan. The goal is to you help regain as much mobility and strength in your shoulder as possible. Your rehabilitation team will also communicate regularly with your surgeon to ensure you’re progressing well.