Arthroscopic Surgery For The Treatment Of Rotator Cuff Tears- Benefits & Complications

Posted On Dec 24, 2019

Department of Orthopaedics

Manipal Hospitals

A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles which surround the shoulder joint. It keeps the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. It is the most susceptible area for injuries. The common rotator injuries are tears, strains, tendinitis, and bursitis.

Rotator cuff tears are caused when the tendons that connect the muscles to bones tears partially or completely. The rotator cuff tears of the shoulder are potentially painful. Treatment for this condition varies depending on the severity of signs and symptoms.

Pain is the most common symptom of rotator cuff tear, and due to the pain, you may not be able to perform the daily activities. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty to sleep on the affected side
  • Trouble reaching behind the neck
  • Progressive weakness of the neck
  • Difficulty achieving full range of shoulder motion

If you are experiencing these symptoms for more than a week, then you must seek doctor’s help.

Arthroscopic surgery

If you have a rotator cuff tear, it does not mean that you need to undergo surgery to fix it. Persistent pain is the indication for surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods or if you are active and using your arms for overhead works or sports.

Your surgeon inserts an arthroscope and surgical instruments through small incisions. The arthroscope is a small device that consists of a camera and displays pictures on the television screen to facilitate viewing the injury for guiding the surgeon.

After the surgery, you will go for rehabilitation so that you can return to your normal activities.

Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery

There are several benefits of the surgery. They include:

  • Minimal invasive: The surgery is less invasive compared to the open surgery as it is performed through a series of small injections.
  • Less surgical risk: Compared to the open surgery, the risks with arthroscopic surgery are less.
  • Less surgical pain: Little pain may be present for a week after which it subsides. Surgery may relieve the painful symptoms of many problems that damage the rotator cuff tendons, articular cartilage, labrum, and other soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Post-operative care

You need to follow certain instructions given by your surgeon. They include:

  • Avoid any bumps or knocks at the surgical area
  • Apply a cold compress to prevent swelling and bruising
  • Keep the arm in a sling
  • Practice exercise recommended by your physiotherapist
  • Take the medications as prescribed by the surgeon

You can restore your normal activities such as eating, driving, and using the telephone after the arthroscopic surgery. But, you should not perform over-the-shoulder activities at least for three months. The recovery depends on your physical and mental health, and adherence to your doctor’s suggestions.


Specific complications of arthroscopic surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Permanent loss of motion or stiffness of the joint
  • Excessive bleeding of the joint
  • Damage to the surrounding blood vessel or nerves

Do not panic if you experience any of the symptoms that might indicate the need for surgery and shoulder surgeon immediately. Taking immediate action can save you a lot of painful symptoms and possible future complications.

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