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Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - What it is

The shoulder joint is the most flexible joint in your body. This shoulder joint is surrounded by four muscles known as the rotator cuff. It allows movement of the arm in almost every direction such as in front, above, to the side, and behind your body. This flexibility makes your shoulder susceptible to instability and injury. When there is damage to any of the structures in the shoulder, movement becomes difficult and painful.

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Symptoms

  • Shoulder pain
  • Night pain (when lying on the affected arm)
  • Weakness of the arm on the affected side
  • Reduced range-of-motion of the affected shoulder

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - How to prevent?

Some general rules to decrease shoulder strain with activities include:
  • Lifting objects close to body
  • Only lift weights and limit lifting to below shoulder level
  • Maintain good posture with writing, assembly work and other tasks by focusing on maintaining a tall spine, ribs down and shoulders down and back.

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Causes and Risk Factors

  • Sports and occupations requiring overhead activity 
  • Acute shoulder trauma (Falling on the affected arm, 
  • Degeneration 

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Diagnosis

  • Physical examination
  • X-rays of the shoulder
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the shoulder
  • Ultrasound shoulder
  • CT Arthrography

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Treatments

Non-surgical options

  • Initial treatment involves reducing pain by resting and avoiding aggravating activities. 
  • Painkillers can be taken to help reduce pain. 
  • Icing the affected shoulder may also relieve pain.
  • Your surgeon may recommend physical therapy with a physiotherapist

Surgical option

  • Based on your needs and severity, your surgeon may recommend surgery if non-surgical method fails to reduce your symptoms. 

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Preparing for surgery

  • Prepare front-buttoned shirts or blouses, preferably short-sleeved, for easy wearing. 
  • Prepare Ice pack to relieve post-operation shoulder swelling and pain. Ice pack can also be bought in the hospital from the physiotherapist.
  • Prepare wet wipes for cleaning of underarm area on the operated shoulder.
  • For female patients you may want to consider getting a front hook, strapless brassiere as the bra strap may put pressure on your wound  and also, you are not advisable to stretch your operated arm backwards
  • You may wish to practice using more of the unaffected arm to do daily activities like combing of hair, showering, having your meals etc. This is to familiarize yourself with the post-operative limitations of the affected shoulder.
  • As lifting of heavy weight on the operated arm is not recommended after surgery, you may want to do grocery shopping in advance or seek assistance from family or friends.

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Post-surgery care

Postoperative rehabilitation vary depending upon the extent of the injury and repair, the quality of tissue and surgeon’s preference.

Your surgeon may order for an Arm Sling or Master Sling for the operated shoulder after the surgery. You may be required to wear the Arm Sling or Master Sling as much as possible, even when you sleep. Discuss with your surgeon on the duration of this sling. Do not discontinue the use of the sling until directed by the doctor.

Please refer to “Orthopaedic Surgery information sheet” for other information regarding post-surgery care. 

Rotator Cuff Tear/Rotator Cuff Repair - Other Information

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