The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. This group of tendons help connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade while stabilizing the shoulder and allowing the shoulder to rotate.
“Since these tendons are key components in the shoulder, a tear can significantly decrease range of motion, cause serious pain and create instability in the shoulder,” says Dr. Burkhart. “If all nonsurgical treatments have failed, surgery is recommended to provide pain relief and improve stability.”
Dr. Burkhart explains that surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff involves reattaching the torn tendon to the head of the humerus (upper arm bone). If the injury did not cause a complete tear, the patient may only need a debridement, or trimming of the damaged tendon. He says tendon tears may occur as a result of overuse or injury. Most rotator cuff tears occur as a result of wear and tear, putting patients over 40 at a greater risk.
“If the rotator cuff tendon is completely torn, surgery is often the only treatment option,” comments Dr. Burkhart.