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The rotator cuff refers to the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons help to keep the head of your upper arm bone within the socket of the shoulder blade. Irritation of the rotator cuff tendons can be a source of shoulder pain. Rotator cuff injuries can occur in those whose jobs or sport activities include an overhead motion such as painting and basketball.
Rotator cuff repair is a type of surgery used to repair a torn tendon in the shoulder. The surgery involves stitching the torn tendon back onto the humerus bone. This may be performed through either keyhole surgery or open surgery using sutures and bone anchors.
Your doctor may suggest this type of surgery if you have been experiencing shoulder pain during rest or at night that has not improved with exercise over a six to twelve month period. If there are multiple or severe tendon tears, surgery may be suggested before this time period. If you are also experiencing a weakness in the shoulder and find yourself unable to perform everyday activities then rotator cuff repair surgery might be the best option for you.
A partial tear in the tendon may improve over time with rest and exercises to strengthen the shoulder.
The Recovery Process
Recovery from a rotator cuff repair can take anywhere up to six months depending on the severity of the tear. Most patients are required to immobilize their shoulder for a six-week period after surgery by wearing a sling and/ or a shoulder immobilizer. This will restrict any shoulder movement and allow the tendon to recover. Physiotherapy is also required in order to help improve the strength and mobility of the shoulder after surgery. A chartered physiotherapist will help you strengthen and stretch the muscles around your shoulder and teach you the proper way to move your shoulder while undertaking everyday tasks or sports activities.
Pain medication may be used to ease the symptoms of post surgery pain and help reduce swelling around the area. Using a heat or ice pack can also be very effective in easing pain in the shoulder after rotator cuff repair surgery. Self care after surgery is very important for the recovery period. Good posture is advised when sitting and lying down. Avoid lying on the side that is in pain and lie on your back instead. You can prop up your shoulder with pillows to help with any discomfort. It’s also important to avoid lifting anything heavy and to take regular breaks from any activity that may cause further pain or inflammation.
If you are thinking about returning to sports or work after surgery it is best to do so when you have fully recovered. This process should be gradual and not rushed in order to avoid the risk of further injury to the area.
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, we have post op care treatments and physical therapy services that can help you in your recovery process. If you have any more questions regarding rotator cuff repair or are interested in making an appointment with one of our chartered physiotherapists, contact us at our Dublin 4 clinic.