Mr Simon Lambert BSc FRCS FRCSEdOrth

Consultant Orthopaedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

Repair of torn tendon

Repair of the torn rotator cuff (RC) tendon(s) is fraught with difficulties: the tendon has to be as healthy as possible, so does the bone into which we are trying to fix the end of the torn tendon, the shoulder is often stiff and has to be released, synovial inflammation contributes to stiffness and pain, and impingement has to be resolved. Taking all these factors it is often a surprise that torn tendons can heal at all. However, they do.

It is important to remember that the tendon heals slowly, and may it take up to nine months for the final result of a tendon repair to be realised. The re-tear rate is higher in arthroscopic repairs than open repairs (presently). The surgery takes up to 1.5 hours, and the arm is rested in a sling, sometimes a special brace, for up to three months afterwards: RC repair is not for the impatient. Physiotherapy is an important part of the healing process and the progression of the treatment requires fine judgement on the part of experienced physiotherapists.