What Are Rotator Cuff Treatment Options for Patients with Massive Rotator Cuff Tears?

For athletes involved in sports like baseball, tennis and swimming, there is often a common fear of sustaining a shoulder injury like tearing a rotator cuff. As a board certified orthopedic surgeon and shoulder doctor, Stacie Grossfeld MD offers effective rotator cuff treatment to people in the Louisville, Kentucky area. Rotator cuff tears can become severe and may even halt a person’s athletic career. Shoulder Injuries and Rotator Cuff Treatment OptionsAthletes are not the only one’s susceptible to this type of injury, but their level of activity and repetitive movements put athletes at a higher rate of risk for sustaining this injury. Fortunately there

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that form around the shoulder joint that is located at the top of the humerus. All of these parts work together to form a “cuff” that is responsible for stability and moving the arm in different directions. Too much stress, repetition and fatigue can cause the tendons to swell and tear.

This type of injury produces pain, fatigue, reduced range of motion and other symptoms. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect a shoulder injury that may require rotator cuff treatment. This could help you get back out on the playing field or pool much more quickly and successfully than if you try to ignore your symptoms. For athletes that have been diagnosed with this injury, it is important to discover all of your rotator cuff treatment options.

What are the Surgical Options for Rotator Cuff Treatment?

With massive rotator cuff tears, this often requires surgical treatment to repair the tear to allow the patient to heal properly before returning to their sports. There have been several studies performed and research has uncovered the outcome of massive rotator cuff repairs through surgery.

As an experienced orthopedic surgeon and shoulder doctor, Dr. Grossfeld explains that patients with massive cuff tears, greater than 3 cm or the involvement of two of the four rotator cuff tendons, have high risk for their tendons not healing or re-tearing very quickly after rotator cuff surgery.

There was an excellent article published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, August, 2015 by Dr. Min Soo Shon, that specifically looked at arthroscopic partial repairs of irreparable rotator cuff tears. This group of researchers found that arthroscopic partial repairs may produce initial improvement in select outcomes after two years. However, they found that half of the patients in this study were not satisfied with their outcomes, which had deteriorated over time. They found that one of the preoperative factors noted in poor outcomes would be fatty infiltration of the teres minor and poor satisfaction after arthroscopic partial repair.

Basically this means that the rotator cuff muscles begin to deteriorate and may cause this area to be affected with fatty infiltration that makes it harder for the shoulder to heal properly. The authors however recommended attempting repairs in patients that were not candidates for reverse total shoulder replacement. This is because some patients that have successful outcomes even with just a partial repair of the torn rotator cuff.

Surgery isn’t the only way to treat this type of injury, but it is an option for repairing a massive rotator cuff tear. If you have suffered this type of injury and have to undergo a rotator cuff repair, make sure that you understand all of your options and talk with your shoulder doctor about any issues that may affect a positive outcome.