Surrounding the shoulder joint are the tendons of the rotator cuff. Tendons are where muscles attach to bone. Muscle pulling on bones through tendons produces movement at joints.
The rotator cuff is composed of 4 tendons – subscapularis (at the front), supraspinatus and infraspinatus (at the top) and teres minor (at the back).
In a rotator cuff tear, the tendon pulls away from the bone. Tears do not heal on their own but small tears may be compensated for by the remaining intact tendons. Because of this, a period of physiotherapy is usually tried prior to considering surgery. If ongoing symptoms are problematic, then surgery may be recommended. The aim of surgery is to reattach the tendon firmly to the bone. This allows your body’s natural healing process to occur.
Repairs can be done through arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery, involving 3-5 small cuts or a single, small incision.
The repair is performed using strong suture material which is passed through the tendon and then brought down to the bone using a number of ‘anchors’ which are screwed into the bone.