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Shoulder Arthroscopy For Rotator Cuff Tears

Shoulder Arthroscopy For Rotator Cuff Tears

Arthroscopy is originated from two Greek words – arthro meaning joint and skopein meaning to look. Thus, Arthroscopy can be literally translated to – to look within the joint. In an Arthroscopy procedure, the surgeon inserts a small camera known as an Arthroscope, into a small incision made into the shoulder joint. This camera provides pictures of the inside of the shoulder joints, which helps the surgeon to have a closer look at and repair the damaged tissues.

It is most often recommended for repairing the damaged or torn rotator cuffs in the shoulder joints, although the procedure is also performed for other issues in the shoulder joints as well.

What Is A Torn Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint, which provide a firm connection between the head of the upper and the shoulder socket. A tear in the rotator cuff causes a lot of pain and discomfort, and in due course, weakens the shoulder muscles as well.

Some of the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear are:

  • Pain at rest and particularly if lying on the side of the damaged shoulder.
  • Pain while lifting and lowering the arm, or while moving in a particular manner.
  • Weakness while lifting or rotating the arm.
  • Crepitus or crackling sensation while moving the shoulder in specific positions.


Types Of Rotator Cuff Tears

When the rotator cuff does not function normally, it causes abnormal motion at the joint which results in a lot of friction between the surfaces of the tendons and tissues. Based on the extent of the damage due to the abnormal motion, rotator cuff tears are broadly classified as:

Partial-thickness or incomplete tears – These tears occur in the initial stages, and may become full tears if they remain undetected.

Full-thickness tears – These occur when parts of the rotator cuff tendon are completely torn off from the shoulder socket. Sometimes, a torn rotator cuff is indicative of other major shoulder problems, such as shoulder instability or arthritis. That is why a shoulder specialist usually performs a thorough check to rule out other problems before beginning the surgery for torn rotator cuffs.


How Is Arthroscopic Surgery Performed?

Once the rotator cuff tear is identified, the patient is prepared for arthroscopic surgery. The Arthroscopic surgery is performed as mentioned in the below steps:

  • An Arthroscope is inserted into the shoulder through a small incision.
  • The tissues in the shoulder joint are inspected by the surgeon – including the cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Once the damaged tissues are identified, more incisions are made by the surgeon to insert instruments and perform the repair. The damaged tissues are removed.

Recovery from the procedure varies from person to person, and full recovery may take a few months. In some cases, a sling may be required depending on the extent of the surgery. The shoulder specialist/surgeon would provide a proper plan for do’s and don’ts, diet, and exercise to ensure a smooth and complete recovery.


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