Rotator Cuff Repair

A rotator cuff repair is used to repair tears in one or more of the four tendons making up the rotator cuff, in the shoulder.

At the time of surgery, a subacromial decompression is performed initially to first help relieve the pain associated with the tear.

Small tears can be treated by arthroscopic repair, keyhole surgery. Larger tears generally require both arthroscopic and open techniques, dependent upon the size and location of the tear. Open surgery involves creating a four to eight cm incision on the side of the shoulder.

Repairs involve using dissolvable plastic pegs with strong sutures attached which are placed into the bone to hold down the tendon. Typically there will be between three and five small incisions. Patients are usually required to stay in hospital for one to two nights following an open repair, and one night following arthroscopic repairs.   


Patients will require a sling for six weeks following the procedure.  For the first three weeks, the patient will have their arm in a sling with minimal movement.  Between three and six weeks the patient begins physiotherapy to regain movement in the shoulder.  Patients should be able to begin driving after two months.  Between eight and sixteen weeks, strengthening exercises start as the repair will now be strong enough.  After four months, some sports may be restarted, but heavy lifting and contact sports should be avoided until six months after surgery.