Shoulder Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery

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Rotator cuff surgery is shoulder surgery that repairs a torn tendon between the upper arm and shoulder to decrease pain, restore shoulder function and strength.

What is rotator cuff shoulder surgery?

Rotator cuff shoulder surgery is carried out by an orthopedic surgeon to repair a tear in a rotator cuff tendon that connects the upper arm and shoulder. The surgery is typically arthroscopic (or keyhole) surgery, which is minimally invasive and leads to faster recovery times. The surgeon makes a small incision and uses small instruments, including a tiny camera called an arthroscope, to perform surgery.

What does rotator cuff shoulder surgery treat?

Rotator cuff shoulder surgery treats shoulder pain and weakness that typically results from a major injury or a number of injuries. The rotator cuff is the group of tendons and muscles that helps keep the upper arm bone in place in the shoulder socket so the arms can be raised and rotated. A rotator cuff tear can also result from overuse of the shoulder, such as from repeated overhead working, or as a consequence of another shoulder injury. When the rotator cuff is torn, the patient experiences shoulder pain and weakness that can affect daily activities and participation in sports and fitness activities. Pain and instability usually happen when the arm is raised but can spread to other motions if left untreated.

Without rotator cuff repair surgery, the shoulder may not heal properly, even after physiotherapy. This can lead to further shoulder pain and weakness and injuries, as well as affecting work and other activities.

Rotator cuff shoulder surgery is most commonly recommended in cases where:

  • X-Rays or other scans show damage to the shoulder that will worsen without surgery.
  • The patient has difficulty, and/or feels pain, when putting their arm in the air, throwing, or performing similar actions involving the shoulder that highlight shoulder instability.
  • Symptoms have lasted more than 6 months and have not responded to physiotherapy.

Rotator cuff shoulder surgery results

Arthroscopic rotator cuff shoulder surgery can eliminate shoulder aches and pain and restore function and stability to the shoulder in patients. It also helps to reduce the risk of further shoulder damage due to shoulder instability and weakness and improves patients’ ability to more comfortably take part in daily activities and sports.

Preparing for rotator cuff shoulder surgery

Patients may need to follow specific advice on what to eat and drink, and what medications to take or not take, within a certain time period before rotator cuff repair surgery.

What to expect with rotator cuff shoulder surgery

Rotator cuff repair surgery requires general anesthesia. This means the patient is unconscious for the duration of the procedure.

The surgeon first makes four smalls incision in the front, middle and, rear of the shoulder, as well as in the upper arm. These are large enough for small instruments, including an arthroscope (tiny camera) to guide the surgeon, to be inserted to perform the surgery.

The surgeon then uses sutures (rows of stitches that hold parts of the body together after surgery) to tie the two sides of the torn rotator cuff tendon back together. More sutures fix the tied-together tendon to the shoulder bone. These sutures are held in place by anchors in the bone. Both sutures and anchors eventually dissolve as the area heals.

Recovery after rotator cuff shoulder surgery

After surgery, the patient is taken to a recovery room to be monitored in case there are any complications. Rotator cuff repair surgery is typically outpatient surgery that doesn’t require an overnight stay. It is recommended that the patient asks someone to drive them home.

Patients must wear a sling to keep the arm close to the body for four to six weeks and will be given instructions for what they should and shouldn’t do to ensure a full recovery. A course of physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the shoulder and maximize the return to full function.

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, which means recovery can be faster and easier than after open surgery.

Get rotator cuff repair surgery with Centric Health

Many men and women from across Canada and all over the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for rotator cuff repair surgery. Our orthopedic surgeons have years of experience and excellence in performance and outcome with this procedure. They are committed to helping you regain full motion in your shoulder so that you can take part in sports and other activities again. We strive to provide exceptional pre- and post-operative care. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.

Next steps: Book your rotator cuff consultation

If you are ready to discuss your rotator cuff repair surgery needs with our orthopedic surgeons, contact us to learn more and request a consultation today. To discover your health options your patient care coordinator will discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Incision techniques
  • Potential risks and complications


Toronto Resident
Patients who are residents of Ontario or are otherwise covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) are not eligible to access this procedure privately in the Toronto location.

Winnipeg Resident
Patients who are residents of Manitoba or are otherwise covered by Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan are not eligible to access this procedure privately in the Winnipeg location.

Calgary Resident
One (1) of our surgeons is able to provide access to this procedure privately for patients who reside in Alberta.

Vancouver Resident
Patients who reside in British Columbia are eligible to access this procedure privately.

Other Provinces
Patients who currently reside in Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are eligible to access this procedure privately at any of the locations the procedure is available in.

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