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Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator Cuff Repair Surgeon

Are you an athlete who participates in sports that involve throwing overhead? If so, you may be at risk of developing a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff can become damaged from repetitive overuse, a sports injury, a fall or degeneration of one of the tendons. Rotator cuff surgeon, Dr. Nikhil Verma provides diagnosis and both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Chicago who have developed a rotator cuff injury. Contact Dr. Verma’s team today!

Rotator Cuff Repair Overview

The rotator cuff is a system of tendons and muscles located within the shoulder joint. The muscles and tendons connect the upper arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula) to provide stability and assist with movement. The rotator cuff can become injured from sports activities, a fall, repetitive arm movements or degeneration of the rotator cuff tendon. An injury to the rotator cuff can range from mild tendonitis to a complete tear. A surgical rotator cuff repair is typically required in cases that involve a partial or complete tear. Dr. Nikhil Verma, Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area shoulder surgeon, offers various rotator cuff repair techniques and aids in rotator cuff repair protocols to get patients back to the sports and activities they love.

A rotator cuff injury can cause sharp pain and tenderness within the shoulder joint. In many cases, an injury can heal with conservative measures such as rest, ice, injections and anti-inflammatory medications. If these measures do not alleviate the pain or if a tear is present, Dr. Verma may recommend a surgical rotator cuff repair followed by a strict guideline of rotator cuff repair protocols. Based on his extensive experience and training, Dr. Verma is able to offer numerous surgical techniques to repair a damaged rotator cuff, including a ‘single row’ arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, ‘double row’ arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, patch augmentation rotator cuff repair, complex rotator cuff repair and revision arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

How do I know if I have damaged my rotator cuff?

Often when a rotator cuff is damaged or torn, it is caused from a fall or injury but can also be caused by normal age-related wear and tear. Pain in the front of the shoulder that radiates down the side of the arm can be an Indication that the rotator cuff is damaged. Overhead activities, such as throwing or lifting and reaching may make the pain worse.

A damaged rotator cuff can also cause weakness in the arm along with difficulties with simple routine activities, such as reaching behind the back or combing one’s hair. Nighttime pain or pain that disrupts sleep is also an indication of a damaged rotator cuff.

How painful is a torn rotator cuff?

Sudden tears of the rotator cuff that occur from an acute injury can cause immediate, intense pain with a snapping sensation and immediate weakness in the arm. However, rotator cuff tears that occur over time from wear and tear or slow degeneration of the tendon do not have sudden symptoms. Instead, symptoms from a gradual tear can include:

  • Pain at night while resting, especially if lying on the shoulder
  • Pain when lifting and lowering the arm through specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating the arm
  • Cracking, popping in the shoulder when moving or in certain positions

Do rotator cuff tears heal on their own?

Many partial thickness rotator cuff tears and even some full thickness tears may be treated without surgery. Non-surgical treatments include ice, rest, activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and physical therapy. Large, full thickness rotator cuff tears have been shown to get larger over time and do not heal on their own. Dr. Verma suggests surgical intervention for large rotator cuff tears to restore function, reduce pain and to prevent the tear from becoming bigger.

Is rotator cuff surgery considered major surgery?

Most rotator cuff surgeries are done on an out-patient basis but are still considered “major” surgery. Dr. Verma will discuss the associated risks and recommended post-operative protocol for this patients needing rotator cuff surgery.

How long does it take to recover from torn rotator cuff surgery?

Recovery time will vary based on the extent of tendon damage, age and health of the patient and actual shoulder surgery performed. Typical tears can take six months to reach full recovery.

How do I relieve rotator cuff pain?

The painful symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can be treated with ice, placed at the front of the shoulder, where the pain is felt. Rest and discontinuation of the activities that cause further shoulder pain will also help. Dr. Verma may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) or administer a steroid shot into the shoulder which can also relieve pain.

What is the average recovery time for rotator cuff repair surgery?

The surgery for a torn rotator cuff without other conditions or shoulder damage can take an average of 1-2 hours. Patients are often kept in the recovery room for several hours so they can be monitored. Once a patient is comfortable and alert, Dr. Verma will release them to go home, with a follow-up visit in his office several days afterward.

Will a cortisone shot help a torn rotator cuff?

Studies have shown that cortisone injections can be incredibly helpful at limiting the acute inflammation of in the setting of rotator cuff pathology and allowing the patient to begin therapy. Dr. Verma considerer many factors which influence the decision as to whether surgery is recommended vs. an injection of cortisone. He will discuss these with you after the diagnosis is made.

It is important to follow Dr. Verma’s physical therapy recommendations, even if the shoulder feels better after an injection. While the cortisone can help keep shoulder inflammation down, physical therapy will help prevent a recurrence of symptoms.

For additional information on rotator cuff injuries, or to learn more about the various rotator cuff repair techniques, please contact the office of Dr. Nikhil Verma, orthopedic shoulder surgeon serving the communities of Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois.


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