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Shoulder Surgery

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Dr Crowley specialises in surgery of the shoulder to repair rotator cuff tears and treat bursitis and impingement of the shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/Shoulder Impingement

Rotator cuff tendonitis is a condition where the tendons of the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that attach the head of your upper arm bone (humerus) to your shoulder blade, become irritated or inflamed. Repetitive stress or wear and tear can contribute to the development of rotator cuff tendonitis.

Shoulder impingement is another common cause of shoulder pain. Tendons and bursa (cushioning tissue) can be impinged and irritated by repeated overhead movement. Over time, this can lead to rotator cuff tendonitis and rotator cuff tears.

Surgery can be either open (small single incision) or arthroscopic (several small incisions). The procedure requires anaesthesia and nerve block but the choice of general or regional is left up to the anaesthetic doctor. The goal of the surgery is to restore movement and relieve pain for patients.

Recovery times vary with the type of surgery, general medical condition of the patient and the patient’s compliance with physical therapy. Generally, recovery time falls between six weeks and three months, although significant tendonitis/tearing cases may take six to twelve months to fully recover.

Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that form tendons covering around the head of the upper arm (humerus). A torn rotator cuff tendon indicates that the tendon is no longer fully attached to the head of the humerus.

Surgery to repair rotator cuff tears is usually performed via open surgery or occasionally arthroscopically, which is minimally invasive. The process involves anaesthesia and reattaching the tendons to each other and the bone. The tendons may be anchored to the bone with small suture anchors. These anchors are inserted into the humerus bone and may be made of metal or other material which dissolves over time.

Depending on the degree of the tear, rotator cuff repair surgery may require a lengthy recovery time. Committing to physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises is a big part of recovery. A functional range of motion and adequate strength can take between three and six months post-procedure to restore.