Rotator cuff surgery is a surgical procedure that involves repairing a torn rotator cuff which is a group of muscles and tendons that support the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that support and enable the movement of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tear can occur due to acute injury, chronic overuse, or degenerative changes.

There are different kinds of rotator cuff tears.

Partial Thickness Tears: Part of the tendon is torn.

Full Thickness Tears: The tear extends from one side of the tendon to the other.

Indications for Surgery

Shoulder pain that has not been resolved with conservative measures such as the use of pain medications, the application of ice and heat, physiotherapy, or avoiding activities that cause the pain.

Moderate or complete loss of function or strength in the shoulder.

A severe injury in a person who is physically active.

An injury caused by a tear.

Surgical Techniques

Open Repair: Involves a cut made on the skin and is usually recommended for large or complicated tears.

Mini-Open Repair: A combination of arthroscopy and mini-open repair where a small incision is made to repair the tendon.

Arthroscopic Repair: Laparoscopic surgery that involves making small cuts on the skin and using a camera to assist in the surgery.


Anesthesia: Either general anesthesia or regional nerve block is used.

Incision: Depending on the chosen technique, one or more small cuts are made.

Repair: The damaged tendon is sewn back to the bone using sutures, anchors or other types of fixation devices.

Closure: Wounds are then stitched or stapled closed.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Immobilization: The shoulder is typically placed in a sling and is kept still for several weeks to several months, depending on the extent of surgery.

Physical Therapy: Begins with passive range of motion exercises and then advances to active range of motion and muscle strengthening exercises.

Full Recovery: It may take from six months to one year, with gradual return to full activity and sports.

Risks and Complications


Pain or reduced range of movement

Failure of the repair

Nerve injury

Re-tear of the tendon


Many patients gain substantial pain relief and improvement in function after rotator cuff surgery. The outcome of the surgery is influenced by factors including size and extent of the tear, the patient’s age, their level of physical activity and their compliance with the physiotherapy regime.

Preventive Measures

Regular shoulder strengthening exercises

Correct manner while practicing sports and other activities

Avoiding repetitive overhead activities

Early management of shoulder injuries


Rotator cuff repair is a standard and effective procedure for repairing tears that affect shoulder function and cause severe pain. Rehabilitation is often successful in helping patients achieve complete recovery of their shoulder and resume work and other activities.