The rotator cuff muscles functions to contain the humeral head as we move our shoulder. The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles originate from the scapula and converge to form a cuff to tendon that inserts into the humeral head. It is the convergence of four muscles about the shoulder that forms the rotator cuff. Together with the deltoid muscle, the rotator cuff allows us to move our arm away from our body.
When the rotator cuff tears, the person can develop weakness and pain in the shoulder that can lead to stiffness. As we age, it is common to develop tears of the rotator cuff tendon. Not all rotator cuff tears require surgical intervention. For years the standard technique to repairs these tendons required large incisions about the shoulder and hospitals stays of several days. Today, many orthopedists repair these tendons with arthroscopic techniques as a day surgery. When rotator cuff tears have been present for a long time, it is common for the tendon to retract and atrophy, which could make it non repairable.
A number of techniques and materials are used to repair rotator cuff tears. Most techniques require the use of anchors to suture the torn tendon to bone. These anchors can be made of metal or materials that absorb over time. Different tears require different suturing techniques and anchor arrangements. In some cases only suture is used for the repair.
Even though the procedure is a day surgery, the patient frequently requires the use of narcotic pain medicine after surgery for several days or weeks. Depending on the type of tear, many surgeons will have their patients wear a brace for several weeks to protect the repair during tissue healing.