When does a Rotator Cuff Injury Require Surgery?

The group of muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff are often and easily injured or torn. Athletes, construction workers, and anyone who lifts heavy objects are most at risk to injure their rotator cuffs, but age is also a contributing factor. 

For most, physical therapy is the only intervention needed to heal and alleviate the pain that accompanies a rotator cuff injury, but there are cases where surgical intervention is necessary. 

How do you know you need surgery? Our physicians at Texas Orthopedics Associates share the warning signs of a more serious injury that may require surgery. 

Your injury is not responding to nonsurgical treatment

Although physical therapy, cortisone injections, home exercises, and other nonsurgical methods are typically the most effective treatments for a rotator cuff injury, you may need surgery if your injury is not responding to these treatments within a few months.

Your injury interferes with your work 

You may need surgery if the injury interferes with your daily life, especially your job. Rotator cuffs are essential to lifting, pulling, and reaching. Stay-at-home moms, athletes, and manual laborers alike depend on these muscles to stabilize the shoulder and make movement possible. 

If you have a more sedentary lifestyle, you may be better able to withstand the pain or tolerate a longer recovery plan. But if you are unable to complete duties required of you at work, talk to a member of our Texas Orthopedics Associates team to discuss your possible surgical options. 

Your injury interferes with your daily life

Your pain may be so extreme that simple tasks such as basic housework, getting dressed, or reaching in a cupboard are impossible. If the pain associated with your rotator cuff injury is constant and not relieved by nonsurgical treatments, especially steroid injections, you may be a candidate for rotator cuff surgery. 

Your injury is substantial

There are many degrees of a rotator cuff injury. Some patients have smaller tears that respond quickly to physical therapy and other treatments. If our team determines that the tear in your rotator cuff is significant, you may need surgical intervention to prevent long-term or even irreparable damage to the tendons and muscles in your rotator cuff. 

Your surgical options

If you do need rotator cuff surgery, you and our specialists decide on a specific surgical method. 

If your tear is smaller, our doctors may suggest either an arthroscopic tendon repair, where a small camera is inserted into the shoulder to assist with repairing the tear, or an open tendon repair, which is similar to the arthroscopic procedure but requires a longer incision and may lead to higher levels of discomfort.

If your injury is more severe, our physicians may opt for a more involved procedure. If your tendon is completely torn, a tendon transfer operation may be the right choice. A tendon transfer operation uses a healthy tendon from nearby to replace your damaged one.

Your rotator cuff injury may be so severe that you need a complete shoulder replacement. In this procedure, our doctors replace your shoulder joint with a prosthetic one to repair damage and restore mobility. 

Our physicians at Texas Orthopedics Associates want to ensure a speedy and lasting recovery from your rotator cuff injury. If you feel you fit one or more of these warning signs of a severely damaged rotator cuff and think you may need surgery, call or click the “Request Appointment” button on our website to schedule a consultation. 




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