If you have been diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, you will likely have a lot of questions regarding the condition and its treatment. Prior to any treatment being offered, a consultation will first need to be undertaken.
This offers you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the treatment method. The surgeon will also be able to discuss the injury and advise you on the best course of treatment moving forward.
Here, we’ll answer some of the frequently asked questions about rotator cuff tear consultations. This should give you an idea of what to expect and what to ask during your consultation.
Is there any difference between an open and arthroscopic repair?
There are two surgical methods that can be used to treat rotator cuff tears. These include open and arthroscopic repair. The arthroscopic approach results in a smaller incision site. However, it works on the exact same tissues as the open procedure. A small camera is inserted to allow the surgeon to see what they are doing. The entire repair is carried out without having to open the entire shoulder area.
Open surgery, on the other hand, creates a much larger incision and opens up the area. This results in a longer recovery process.
Is there an alternative to shoulder surgery?
Prior to surgery being carried out, the surgeon will always attempt to rectify the problem via alternative methods. This includes physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and injections. Not all rotator cuff tears require surgery, it just depends upon the severity of the tear and whether alternative methods have worked to clear it up.
Will I need to wear a sling after the surgery?
If you do undergo surgery, you will need to wear a sling for a period of four to six weeks. This will depend upon the size of your rotator cuff tear and how extensive the surgery was. The sling will need to be worn at all times and you may also be required to wear a small foam cushion placed between the arm and the body.
Always follow the surgeon’s advice regarding proper use of the sling to aid your recovery.
Will I need to attend physical therapy?
You will generally be required to attend physical therapy. This helps to aid the recovery process and improve motion within the arm and shoulder. You will typically need to start attending physical therapy appointments six weeks after the surgery.
How long will it take to recover?
The recovery process from rotator cuff surgery can be quite long. If you have undergone an arthroscopic procedure, you can expect the recovery to last a few months. If you have undergone open shoulder surgery, however, you may need to wait six months for the shoulder to heal. Your surgeon will be able to tell you how long your individual recovery is expected to take.
These are just some of the most frequently asked questions regarding rotator cuff tear repair. Remember, the consultation is your chance to find out as much about the procedure and recovery as you can.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, all non-urgent / elective surgery bookings and appointments are postponed, but the London Shoulder Specialists are still available for consultation. Consultations can be carried out either by telephone or video link.