Your shoulder happens to encompass the most movable joints in your body, but can become unstable and the site of injuries, such as, torn rotator cuffs, sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, bursitis, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, fractures and arthritis.
What is a Rotator Cuff?
The shoulder is called a ball and socket joint, known as the Glenohumeral joint. The bones of the shoulder consist of the humerus (the upper arm bone), the scapula (the shoulder blade), and the clavicle (the collar bone). Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common reasons why people have shoulder pain. The rotator cuff connects the ball to the socket, and is made up of four muscles (Supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis), which all control how well your shoulder works. If a tear in the rotator cuff is large enough, it can affect how well the shoulder will function.
Rotator cuff tears can occur because of an injury, trauma or simply because our tissue has been worn out, or degenerating. Many rotator cuff tears can be treated without surgery. However, your doctor may recommend surgery for a torn rotator cuff if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods. Continued pain is the main indication for surgery.
Preparing for Surgery
If you have been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, you may be considering surgery as an option to repair the damage. With any surgery, it is important to understand what the surgery entails, and to be prepared.
Your doctor will explain to you that rotator cuff repair is usually an outpatient procedure, under anesthesia. Rotator cuff repair is done arthroscopically, meaning a small incision will be made on the back of the shoulder, and a camera will be inserted, after water is pumped into the joint, to allow the surgeon to clearly see the shoulder joint and torn rotator cuff. This minimally invasive approach, allows the rotator cuff tear to be visualized from both inside the joint and from the space above the joint.
Prior to your shoulder surgery, patients with multiple medical conditions may be asked to see their primary care physician (PCP) for pre-operative surgical clearance. This visit to your PCP is necessary to confirm that you are healthy and cleared for surgery. During your pre-operative evaluation, you may be asked to get additional tests a few days prior to your surgery date.
If the rotator cuff surgery involves your dominant arm, meaning the one that you use the most, it may present several challenges for you. Following surgery, your arm will be put in a sling. Performing everyday activities with your non-dominant hand will require some adjustments and patience. It will be several weeks before you will be able to use your dominant hand normally.
Before having shoulder arthroscopy, you should make sure your doctor is aware of:
- All medical conditions you have
- All allergies you have
- Any medications that you are taking
- Any bleeding problems
- If you are pregnant
In addition, your doctor will ask you not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. Unless directed otherwise you should refrain from taking any medications the day of surgery. You should not take Aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines (i.e. Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve) for 10 days before your surgery as they prevent your blood from clotting.
You must arrange for someone to pick you up after surgery, and stay with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure. It is important to plan ahead in this regard. We will do our best to make your return home after surgery as easy as possible.
To learn more about how to repair for your rotator cuff procedure, call the office of Dr. Bill Hefley at (800) 336-2412 to request an appointment, or request an appointment online.