Repairing Your Rotator Cuff

The shoulder, a ball and socket joint, is one of the most mobile joints in the human body. It’s a hardworking joint that helps you to keep the golf ball in the fairways (hopefully) when swinging your club. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that attach to and form a “cuff” over the top of the humerus (the upper arm bone). The cuff actually works to keep the arm inside the socket.


The rotator cuff can tear as a result of impact, like a fall, which is known as an acute tear. Wear and tear on the joint, known as a degenerative tear, is another cause. There are two different types of tears: a partial tear, in which some of the tendons remain attached, and a full-thickness tear (a complete tear).

Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include pain in the front of your shoulder that sometimes extends down your arm. You may notice pain when performing different activities or movements in the affected shoulder. If you experience shoulder pain, it’s always best to make an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon to have it examined and diagnosed.

Typically, these tears are unable to heal on their own and will require surgery. However, you can first try a more conservative treatment with rest, anti-inflammatories, steroid injections and physical therapy. If pain persists, a surgical procedure may be required to correct the tear.

There are three different commonly-used techniques to correct a torn rotator cuff: open repair, mini-open repair and arthroscopic repair.

  • Open Repair – This option involves creating an incision, typically several centimeters long, to reattach the tendons. This type of surgery is usually required for larger tears.


  • Mini-Open Repair – A mini-open repair requires a smaller incision than the open repair method and uses arthroscopy to examine and correct some of the damage. The tendons are then reattached via traditional surgery.


  • Arthroscopic Repair – This type of surgery is the least invasive and is often an outpatient procedure. During surgery, an arthroscope (a tiny camera) is inserted into the patient’s shoulder. This enables the surgeon to view and assess the damage. Then, using much smaller surgical instruments, the surgeon can repair the damage through tiny incisions.

Physical therapy will be required after any surgery option. You can expect to recover within several months, with full recovery at one year.  Goals of surgery outcomes include better range of motion and regain strength with less or no pain.

If you’ve been experiencing shoulder pain or recently suffered a shoulder injury, please schedule an appointment by calling 618-288-9460. You can also visit for more information.

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