What has gone wrong?
You have a tear or hole in your rotator cuff. This is probably as a result of the tendons rubbing against the arch of bone above. You also have pain when you use your arm. You may not be able to do certain things, such as lift your arm above shoulder height. The pain is not directly due to having the hole in your rotator cuff. It is unclear exactly where the pain comes from. Many older people have a tear or hole in the rotator cuff but do not have pain.
Our aim is to stop your shoulder hurting. After the initial pain from the operation the old pain from your shoulder will be better.
The main benefit is to reduce the pain that you get from your shoulder. If your shoulder is weak, it may be stronger afterwards.
Are there any alternatives?
The tendon cannot repair itself. In some people, after many months, the pain can diminish without surgery. If your shoulder is weak, this will not improve and there is no satisfactory alternative treatment.
What if you do nothing?
Your shoulder will usually continue to hurt and be weak.
Who should have it done?
If your shoulder is painful you should have the rotator cuff repair operation.
Who should not have it done?
If your shoulder does not hurt, then you should not have an operation. This is because there may be discomfort after the operation. You would then be worse off than before.
Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma
© Dumas Ltd 2006