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Treating Rotator Cuff Tears


Forming the rotator cuff is a group of tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. Those tendons allow the shoulder to perform movements and functions. If one or more of those tendons is injured, a rotator cuff tear may occur. When that happens, patients typically express feelings of pain and loss of strength, movement, and sleep.

“When conservative treatment options have been exhausted, surgical treatment options may be necessary to relieve discomfort and pain in the shoulder and return the patient to his or her regular activities,” explains Dr. Joseph P. Burns, shoulder surgeon at Southern California Orthopedic Institute.

Traditionally, open rotator cuff repair has been the preferred surgical option for a rotator cuff tear when conservative treatment options are unsuccessful. Making an incision on the outside of the shoulder, 10-12 centimeters in length, the surgeon would separate shoulder muscles to expose the rotator cuff for repair. However, this approach to rotator cuff repair causes a significant amount of pain and requires a lengthy recovery process.

Fortunately, the rotator cuff repair procedure has advanced in technique and now requires a much smaller incision, about one centimeter in length. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair incorporates the use of a small camera to view the joint and its tendons as well as small instruments to perform the repair of tendons. This technique allows the surgeon to view the procedure on a television monitor.

“Surgeons are continually developing methods to reduce problems associated with surgical procedures,” Dr. Joseph P. Burns says. “So far, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair has proven successful in reducing recovery pain and shortening the rehabilitation process.”

The type of procedure required varies based on each patient’s needs. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, call (877) 952-8484 to schedule an appointment with one of the shoulder doctors at Southern California Orthopedic Institute.


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