Dr. Demos Neophytou

Cyprus Orthopaedic Surgeon

ROTATOR CUFF TEARS

About
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles which wrap closely around the shoulder joint. They function to keep the joint in the correct position and control shoulder and arm movements. The muscles attach from the shoulder blade to the top of the arm bone by the rotator cuff tendons. These tendons can be damaged through wear and tear or after an accident or fall. Damage to one or more of these tendons can lead to shoulder and arm pain and weakness.



Symptoms
Pain is often felt in the upper arm or over the point of the shoulder. Movements of the arm may cause pain or be severely restricted. In particular movement above shoulder height is painful and difficult e.g. reaching into a high kitchen cupboard. The shoulder is often painful at night, which may affect sleep, and lying on the affected side may cause pain.

Treatment
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication may help reduce pain. Physiotherapy can sometimes be helpful in improving shoulder strength and reduce the pain and weakness. This is particularly effective if the tear is as a result of wear and tear and may have been present for many months (chronic tear). However, for an acute tear following an accident, fall or injury we advise urgent assessment of your shoulder and prompt treatment of acute tears is likely to result in the best outcome for your shoulder and arm function.

When is surgery required for a rotator cuff tear?
Surgery is required if the rotator cuff tendons are torn to repair them back onto the arm bone. This aims to reduce pain and to restore arm and shoulder function. If the tear is due to wear and tear, you are likely to need additional treatment to prevent further rubbing of the tendon and recurrence. This can be performed at the same time as your surgery to repair the tear. Surgery to repair the rotator cuff is carried out by keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery and is most often performed as a daycase operation (come into hospital on the morning of surgery and go home the same day).