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Rotator Cuff

Dr. Matthew Pifer -  - Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon

Dr. Matthew Pifer

Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon & Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon located in Santa Barbara, CA

A rotator cuff tear can cause severe shoulder pain and limit your movement, so even daily tasks like combing your hair or getting dressed are difficult. If you’re experiencing rotator cuff pain, orthopedic surgeon Matthew Pifer, MD, in Santa Barbara, California, can help. A shoulder expert in rotator cuff injuries as well as rotator cuff repair surgery, Dr. Pifer offers comprehensive evaluations to figure out the extent of your injury and determine which rotator cuff repair treatment is best for you. To learn more, call the office or schedule an appointment online.

Rotator Cuff Q & A

What Are the Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears?

The cause of a rotator cuff tear may be a sudden injury like a fall, or it may be something that happens over a period of years due to natural tendon degeneration. The most obvious indicator of a rotator cuff tear is a radiating pain that starts at the front of the shoulder. This pain is often most noticeable when reaching upwards. Many people with rotator cuff tears feel pain when sleeping on their side. It is also common to notice sudden weakness in the arm or hand.

What is Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery?

Rotator cuff repair surgery is designed to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon. After the orthopedic surgeon sews the tendon back together, it is then placed in the proper position at the top of the upper arm, where it is firmly reattached. There are several other procedures that may be done during rotator cuff repair surgery as well. 

If there is damaged tissue in the shoulder joint area, debridement may be performed. For patients who have bone spurs, subacromial decompression may be done so that the newly repaired rotator cuff tendon can move freely and smoothly.

What is Rotator Cuff Repair Recovery Like?

Patients will wear a sling after the surgery. The length of time that the sling is required will depend upon the severity of the tendon tear. The sling will generally be worn around the clock but may be removed for bathing or to do exercises prescribed by the doctor. 

Most patients will take part in a physical therapy program following their rotator cuff repair surgery. This therapy will begin around the 4 week mark post-surgery and will typically include a range of motion exercises, postural exercises, and more. 

Patients who have discomfort or pain in the shoulder area are typically encouraged to ice their shoulders several times a day. Most people will need to wait for 4 to 6 months before resuming sports or other strenuous physical activities involving the shoulder area.