Rotator Cuff Repair at UnityPoint Health - Meriter

ER - Madison

22 min Average
UnityPoint Health - Madison

Rotator Cuff Repair

One common shoulder injury is a rotator cuff tear. Since we depend on the shoulder for many activities, these injuries can be frustrating experiences. When the rotator cuff is injured, it's the tendons of the rotator cuff that are affected. These tendons connect the rotator cuff muscles to the bone. When the tendons are inflamed or torn, they cannot function properly. Pain and weakness are the most typical symptoms of this injury.


Pain from a rotator cuff tear is usually located over the outside of the shoulder and upper arm. Pain while performing overhead activities and pain at night are also common in individuals with a rotator cuff tear. Common in a more severe injury, the pain may awaken patients from sleep. You also may notice while doing your normal day activities that you have an abnormal decrease in strength, which will not allow you to perform normal everyday activities.

Surgical Treatments

The rotator cuff allows a person to lift his/her arm and reach up. If the rotator cuff is injured, it may need to be repaired surgically. This may include shaving off bone spurs that are pinching the shoulder, or repairing torn tendons or muscles in the shoulder.

  • Arthroscopic repairs utilize a small thin instrument is called a fiber-optic scope. This scope is inserted into a small surgical opening made in the shoulder or upper arm area. This process is beneficial because it avoids excessive damage or injury to surrounding tissues and muscles, and allows for a faster healing process.
  • Open surgical repair procedures utilize the traditional surgical incision for cases in which the rotator cuff has received extensive or complex damage or requires reconstruction. This type of surgery creates a larger incision as well as longer healing times.
  • Mini open repairs utilize the development of new and state-of-the-art equipment and instruments to repair rotator cuff injuries through a very small incision. This type is growing more popular, as it provides the benefits of open surgical repairs without the damage to surrounding tissues and muscles as a result.


The goal of rotator cuff repair surgery is to help restore the function and flexibility of the shoulder and to relieve the pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments. Recovery varies in each individual case, but patients who participated in sports before needing surgery usually can participate in the same sports following surgery after a period of time.