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Rotator cuff shoulder surgery

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that maintain the shoulder's stability and help the joint move. Injuries and tears to the rotator cuff can be painful and disabling, making the shoulder weak and immobile. The London Clinic provides rotator cuff surgery by some of the world's best orthopaedic surgeons, and a comfortable, stress-free environment in which to recover.

The London Clinic’s highly-skilled orthopaedic surgeons have access to the latest diagnostic tests and state-of-the-art operating facilities. Following surgery, the dedicated physiotherapy team will support your shoulder’s healthy rehabilitation using advanced evidence-based therapies.

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. There are four muscles in the group; they connect the ball on the top of the humerus to the shoulder blade. They work together to move the shoulder and keep it stable.

What is a rotator cuff tear?

A rotator cuff tear is a rip in the group of muscles that stabilise the shoulder and allow it to move. You can tear your rotator-cuff during an injury like a fall, car-crash or shoulder dislocation. Overuse, age and wear and tear can also damage, degenerate and stiffen the tendons, making them vulnerable to problems. Because of this, people over 40 are more likely to develop rotator cuff tears.

Rotator cuff injuries are painful, can restrict shoulder movement and make it difficult to live a full and active life. It can be a challenge to get dressed, do up your bra, brush your hair, put on a seatbelt or drive. Your arm may feel weak, and you may notice a grating sound when you move your shoulder.

If shoulder problems affect your quality of life, The London Clinic's surgeons can repair the damage, ease your pain and restore your shoulder’s movement and function.

What is rotator cuff surgery?

Rotator cuff surgery is surgery to repair tears in the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. Many of the orthopaedic consultants at The London Clinic prefer minimally-invasive techniques for shoulder surgery. There are smaller scars and less muscle damage, so that you should be in the hospital for a shorter time and enjoy a quicker recovery.

The specialist surgeons can repair many rotator cuff repairs as a ‘keyhole’ procedure through an arthroscope. However, sometimes it's essential to perform an open operation to detach the large deltoid muscle in the back, get improved access to the shoulder joint, and achieve better results.

Treatment options

Not everyone with rotator cuff problems needs surgery. For many individuals, specialist physiotherapy, rest and anti-inflammatories can provide relief and prevent surgical intervention. However, if there is a significant tear, the tendon is completely detached, or conservative measures have not helped, surgery is necessary to get your shoulder moving again.

The London Clinic offers thorough assessment and investigation of your shoulder so that you can access the best treatment to resolve your symptoms.

Consultation for rotator cuff surgery at The London Clinic

Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons will assess and advise you in The London Clinic’s comfortable and well-equipped consulting rooms. They will take a detailed medical history, examine your shoulder, and ask about the impact your symptoms have on your wellbeing and function.

Your consultant may arrange tests and investigations in the cutting-edge imaging suite. These may include:

Having made a detailed evaluation of your shoulder, they will recommend a minimally-invasive repair or a mini-open operation for your tear. They will then plan your admission for surgery and advise you about any preparation needed. They will take the time to answer all your questions and address any concerns

Rotator cuff surgery at The London Clinic

The orthopaedic surgeons at The London Clinic perform rotator cuff surgery under general anaesthetic or a regional nerve block that numbs the area. You may need to stay in the hospital for one to two days so that the team can monitor your recovery and start your rehabilitation.

Arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery

The surgeon will make small incisions in the skin over your shoulder. They will insert a small telescope attached to a digital camera; this relays high-quality images to a computer screen. Your consultant will examine the shoulder joint and use specially-designed instruments to repair the tear. If there is a partial tear, they can often just trim or smooth any damaged tissue.

Mini-open rotatorcuff repair

If you have a big tear or the tendon is totally detached, the surgeon may perform an open operation to repair the damaged tissue and reattach the tendon. They will initially examine the joint using the arthroscope and remove any ragged tissue or debris in the joint. Your surgeon will then make a 3-5cm incision, repair the tear and stitch the tendon back onto the humerus if it is detached.

Finally, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures and apply dressings and bandages to cover and protect the wounds.

Recovery and aftercare

Following your surgery, The London Clinic's staff will provide support, and give you a bespoke rehabilitation plan.

The staff on the ward will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable. Depending on the size of your tear and the type of operation you've had, your shoulder may be swollen, sore, and stiff for several weeks. Applying icepacks and taking regular analgesia can reduce swelling and ease any discomfort.

You will be given a sling to support your arm and keep your shoulder stable. You will need to wear it day and night for up to six weeks, or as instructed by your surgeon. It is vital to keep the elbow close to the body so that you don’t interrupt the healing process.

Rehabilitation is an essential part of your treatment. The London Clinic's specialist physiotherapy team will give you a bespoke programme of exercises to help you regain strength, fitness, and mobility. You can remove your sling during your exercises but should put it back on as soon as you've finished.

The London Clinic has a state-of-the-art physiotherapy suite, including a gym and a hydrotherapy pool. The rehabilitation team can use the Biodex Isokinetic Machine to assess your muscle strength and monitor your progress.

Your consultant will let you know when it’s safe to return to work. Usually, people with desk-based jobs can get back to work after 3-6 weeks. However, people who perform heavy or physical jobs may need 3-4 months to recover fully. The London Clinic team will always be on hand if you have any questions, problems or worries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rotator cuff surgery safe?

There are risks with any surgical procedure. The London Clinic is dedicated to reducing complications and helping your recovery. Problems with pain, bleeding, scarring, blood clots, and infection can happen after any operation. Specific issues with rotator cuff repair include nerve injury, shoulder stiffness, failure of the repair to heal and recurrence of symptoms requiring revision surgery.

Speak to your surgeon if you have any concerns. They will always take time to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure and answer any questions.

Is it painful after surgery?

Your shoulder may be painful and stiff after the operation. The London Clinic team will recommend effective painkillers and will advise you to apply icepacks to reduce swelling. Until the shoulder has healed, you may need to adapt your sleeping position and use pillows to support your body.

Will I need help at home after surgery?

After shoulder surgery, it can be challenging to manage the normal activities of daily living. It can be particularly difficult to dress and wash, so it can be helpful if someone could be at home to help you, especially in the first few days.

Can I have a bath after surgery?

You should keep the wound dry for at least a week. After that, it's safe to shower. However, you shouldn't submerge your shoulder in a bath or swimming pool until the wound has healed. This helps reduce the risk of infection. The London Clinic team will provide personal advice and guidance on aftercare following your procedure. A patient can purchase a waterproof sling from us as well if needs be.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

The London Clinic is an HTA licensed and JACIE accredited cancer centre with an ‘Excellent’ MacMillan Quality Environment Mark and with access to a Level 3 intensive care unit.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.

Treatment cost

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments.

Patients have the option to spread the cost of treatment with Chrysalis Finance.

Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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