Rotator Cuff Surgery

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An Overview on Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator cuff injuries are fairly common in the athletic community. An injury to the rotator cuff occurs when one or more of the four muscle-tendon units become damaged from an injury, fall or other traumatic event. When one or more of these tendons become torn, the shoulder loses stability, strength and range of motion. Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area, specializes in non-surgical and surgical treatment of rotator cuff injuries. He will diagnose the injury and determine if arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery is necessary.

There are a variety of injuries that can occur to the muscle-tendon units that compose the rotator cuff. Certain patients may experience small, “micro” damage from repetitive overuse, inflammation and impingement (pinching). Other patients may experience a complete rupture of a tendon from its attachment site on the humerus (upper arm bone). When a rotator cuff tear occurs, arthroscopic surgery is typically necessary to restore mobility and strength to the shoulder joint.

Mild cases of a rotator cuff injury, such as tendonitis or low-grade partial tears, are treated with activity modification, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to alleviate symptoms and facilitate healing.

Shoulder arthroscopy rotator cuff surgery may be recommended by Dr. Yau if conservative measures fail or if the patient has a high-grade partial thickness or full thickness rotator cuff tear. Dr. Yau performs rotator cuff repairs utilizing minimally invasive surgical techniques to help patients return to activities quicker and with less pain.

During arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, Dr. Yau will identify the tear and reattach it to its attachment site on the humerus. The repair is done through use of special suture anchors that are anchored within the bone.  These anchors are attached to sutures that are used to sew the torn tendons back down to its attachment site on the bone.  If necessary, Dr. Yau will perform a double row repair to add stability to the repair site. This technique consists of two rows of anchors in the bone with sutures in between to secure the torn tendon back to its original attachment site.

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Recovery and Rehabilitation Following Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Surgery

After shoulder surgery, patients will be placed in a sling or similar device to prevent movement of the repaired joint in order to facilitate healthy healing. Dr. Yau will prescribe a physical therapy program following the procedure to restore function and limit stiffness. The progression of the program will vary from patient to patient depending on injury severity and type of surgery performed. Patients can expect a steady progression through range of motion and strengthening exercises with a gradual return to normal activities.  Rotator cuff repairs generally take approximately 6 to 9 months to fully recover with some patients taking even longer.

For additional information on arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, or to learn more about single row and double row shoulder surgery, please contact the office of Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area.

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