Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff or rotor cuff is the group of muscles and their tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. Repetitive activities and overuse can injure tendons and lead to pain and impaired function. This is called Tendinitis or Tendinopathy. Tendinitis is a common problem that is more likely to occur as people age and in people who routinely perform activities that require repetitive movement that increase stress on susceptible tendons. Rotator cuff tear; the rotator cuff tendon(s) may be torn as a result of injury, chronic Tendinopathy, or a combination of both. Common signs and symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Recurrent, constant pain, particularly with overhead activities
  • Pain at night that prevents you from sleeping on the affected side
  • Muscle weakness, especially when lifting the arm
  • Catching, grating or cracking sounds when the arm is moved

Rotator Cuff surgery repairs torn tendons vital to the mobility, strength and stability of the shoulder. When an acute injury occurs, the rotator cuff should be operated upon within a few weeks to ensure the success of the surgery.


The need to surgically repair a torn rotator cuff depends upon your age, activity level, and the severity of your tear. Surgical repair is usually recommended for people with a complete rotator cuff tear, especially if the person is young and/or active.

There are several surgical options to treat rotator cuff tears, depending on the size, depth, and location of the tear. If other problems with the shoulder are discovered during the surgery, they will be corrected as well.

  • Arthroscopy, in which miniature instruments are inserted into small incisions, can be used to remove bone spurs or inflammatory portions of muscle and to repair lesser tears.
  • A mini-open repair that combines arthroscopy and a small incision can be used to treat full-thickness tears.
  • In more severe cases, open surgery is required to repair the injured tendon. Sometimes a tissue transfer or a tendon graft is used.