Most people only associate rotator cuff injuries with athletes. Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, explains exactly what happens during this procedure, and why it’s not just for major league pitchers.
Rotator cuff injuries are a growing problem among aging Americans. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that anchor the head of the upper arm bone – the humerus – securely into the socket of the shoulder joint.
The muscles of the rotator cuff pull on bands of tough tissues called tendons to raise and rotate your arm. The problem begins when there is a tear in one of these tendons. Arm movement can become painful and in some cases impossible. When this happens, a patient may require rotator cuff surgery.
The procedure begins by making two small cuts in the skin to access the inside of the shoulder. The doctor will then insert an arthroscope, which is a device that contains a light, a camera and tiny surgical tools. It will project images on a TV monitor to help guide the surgeon.
A few more small cuts will be made to examine the shoulder joint for unhealthy tissue and repair the torn tendon. Then, the surgeon will drill a few small holes in the bone where implants called suture anchors will be placed. Dissolvable sutures are looped through the anchors and stitched to the repaired tendon to re-connect it to the bone.
After being stitched up, most patients are able to return home the same day with their shoulder in a sling. Recovery includes physical therapy and exercise to get that shoulder back into shape.