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Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery

Providing the arm’s wide range of motion and rotation, the shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in the body. However, the complex structure necessary for the flexibility of the shoulder make the joint vulnerable to injury. Affecting approximately two million people in the US each year, a tear of the rotator cuff muscle group is a common injury of the shoulder.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

Comprised of four muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Subscapularis), the rotator cuff plays a pivotal role in maintaining the stability of the shoulder and the movement of the arm. The muscles hold the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) into the socket of the scapula. This socket, known as the glenoid fossa, is so small and shallow, that the shoulder has been described as a golf ball sitting on a golf tee.

During movement of the arm, the rotator cuff compresses the bones of the shoulder, holding them in place as larger muscles, such as the deltoid, lift the upper arm bone.

How can the rotator cuff be injured?

A common injury during athletic activity, the rotator cuff can tear either through a single traumatic event, such as a football tackle or fall onto outstretched arms, or through wear-and-tear due to overuse, such as repetitive swings of a hockey stick. A torn rotator cuff often results in pain and limitations to shoulder function.

In addition to athletic activity, a rotator cuff tear can result from the affects of aging. Due to aging, the blood supply to the shoulder tendons lessens and reduces the body's natural healing capability. Likewise, bone overgrowths, called bone spurs, can develop on the shoulder joint, and the increased friction from the tendon rubbing on the bone spur can lead to a tear.

Rotator Cuff Tear Diagnosis and Treatment

The severity of a torn rotator cuff can worsen over time, therefore, it is important to have an orthopedic surgeon, such as Dr. Kruse, properly diagnose the cause of shoulder pain or limited mobility.

After discussing symptoms and medical history, Dr. Kruse will perform a physical examination of the affected shoulder, such as testing the joint's range of motion. If further diagnosis is necessary, imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds, may be utilized.

Potential non-surgical treatment methods for a rotator cuff injury include rest, physical therapy, medications, and activity modification. Depending on the severity of the injury and activity level of the patient, these conservative treatments may adequately relieve the pain and improve the function of the damaged shoulder.

For an athlete, surgery may be required to return shoulder function and strength to pre-injury levels. Fortunately, rotator cuff tears can be repaired through minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as arthroscopy.

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that utilizes a fiber-optic camera (arthroscope) to provide the surgeon a view of an injured joint without requiring a large incision.

To perform the procedure, Dr. Kruse will insert the arthroscope into the shoulder through a small incision. The images from the arthroscope are sent to a monitor and provide Dr. Kruse a view of the joint from within for a final, accurate diagnosis of the injury. Dr. Kruse will then insert miniature surgical instruments through secondary incisions to repair the torn rotator cuff.

Due to the small incision required, arthroscopy provides patients with several potential benefits, including reductions in scarring, blood loss, and tissue damage. These reductions lead to a shorter recovery period after surgery, and, with rehabilitation, an athlete may return to the playing field in a matter of months.

Shoulder Arthroscopy in Northern Minneapolis

Specializing in sports medicine, Dr. Jay Kruse emphasizes applying cutting edge technologies in the treatment of his patients' orthopedic needs. To make an appointment, please call our Coon Rapids, MN office or Fridley, MN office at (763) 786-9543.