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Rotator cuff repair surgery is done to fix a tear in the rotator cuff. Your doctor may also clean the space between the rotator cuff tendons and the shoulder blade. This is called subacromial smoothing.
Your doctor will do either arthroscopic or open surgery.
With arthroscopic surgery, your doctor uses a lighted tube with a tiny camera. This tube is called an arthroscope. Your doctor puts it and other surgical tools through small cuts (incisions) in your shoulder. You will likely go home the same day you have this surgery.
With open surgery, your doctor will make a 5- to 10-centimetre (2- to 4-inch) incision in your shoulder. You will likely go home the same day you have this surgery.
In both surgeries, the scars usually fade with time. You will wear a sling for several weeks.
You will need physical rehabilitation (rehab). At first, you will get help with the exercises. Later, your doctor or physiotherapist will give you exercises to do on your own. Rehab will last several months. It will take a few months before you will be able to use your arm normally. It will take longer before you will be able to throw objects or play sports.
After surgery and rehab, you will probably have less pain and more strength in your shoulder. You should be able to lift and rotate your arm better. Some people have to avoid lifting heavy objects.
If you have a desk job, you may be able to return to work or your normal routine within a couple of weeks. If you push, pull, or lift at work, you may be away from work for a few months. If you work at a job that involves heavy manual labour, lifting your arms above your head, or using heavy tools, you may have to think about finding other work.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth J. Koval MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
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