There are four tendons involved in the movement of your shoulder, collectively called the rotator cuff. Sometimes these tendons get compressed and tear - through injury, inactivity or the ageing process. This can cause pain which limits your normal range of motion and everyday activities. Rotator cuff repair surgery fixes the tears in these tendons.

At Spire Alexandra Hospital, Chatham, Kent, our specialist Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeons will help you take control of your health.

When is rotator cuff surgery needed?

The rotator cuff tendons are attached to your shoulder blade at one end and the top of your upper arm (humerus) at the other. They pass through a narrow space before attaching to the top of your upper arm and this space can become increasingly narrow over time due to the formation of a spike of bone, or the thickening of a ligament.

This causes increased pressure on the tendons, making them inflamed and painful. If the pressure is not relieved they can be damaged and ultimately tear.

You might need surgery to repair the damage, with your treatment dependant on the size of the tear.

Who will do it?

Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.

All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.

Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.

Before your treatment

You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.

We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.

Preparing for rotator cuff surgery

We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.

For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.

Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.

Rotator cuff surgery procedure

We understand that having surgery can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.

During rotator cuff repair surgery, we will perform a subacromial decompression to help relieve the pain associated with the tear. The subacromial area is the space between the top of your upper arm bone (humerus) and the small bone attached to the top of your shoulder blade (acromion). Subacromial decompression opens up this space and reduces the pressure on the muscle by cutting the ligament and shaving away the bone spur on the acromion bone, which allows the muscle to heal.

Small tears to rotator cuff tendons can be treated by arthroscopic repair (which is repair through a small incision) or, if very small, they can be left untreated. Repair to small tears can be done with an overnight stay in hospital.

Larger tears generally need to be repaired, with both small incision and open surgery techniques used depending on the size and location of your tear. Arthroscopic repairs use suture anchors (dissolvable plastic pegs with strong sutures attached), which are placed into the bone. The tendon is sutured down to the anatomic insertion site. Typically, there will be between 3 and 5 small incisions for this type of surgery.

For open surgery, an incision of between 4 and 8 centimetres is made on the side of the shoulder and the torn tendon reattached to bone with sutures.

*Procedures available may vary on location.

Rotator cuff surgery recovery time

You'll usually need to stay in hospital for at least one night following this surgery. After the procedure, you'll be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.

After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.

While you are in hospital you may be referred to a physiotherapist who will help you with exercises that will help speed up your recovery.

Pain relief

If you need them, continue taking painkillers as advised by the hospital. 

We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.


Recovery time

Typically, you'll spend the first three weeks after surgery with your arm in a sling with minimal movement to allow the repair to heal strongly. Between three and six weeks, you may start physiotherapy to regain movement in your shoulder, which will be quite stiff by this time. The final phase is between 8-16 weeks, when you will start strengthening exercises.

If it is deemed appropriate by your surgeon, you may be able to restart some sports after four months, but you should avoid heavy lifting and contact sports for six months after surgery.

How your loved ones can help

Once you’re ready to be discharged from hospital, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home as you won’t be able to drive.

As your arm will be in a sling for the first three weeks after surgery, you may find that some routine daily activities, such as shopping, are difficult for a few weeks and you’ll need some help with light errands.

You must follow your surgeon's advice about driving and returning to work. You shouldn't drive until you are confident that you could perform an emergency stop without discomfort.

Looking after you

Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way. After rotator cuff repair, we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what to do and not to do with your shoulder and follow-up medical support.

Typically your consultant will want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing. You might also be seen by a physiotherapist. A follow up appointment will be made for you before you leave the hospital.

On rare occasions, complications following rotator cuff repair can occur. The chance of complications depends on the exact operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Ask your surgeon to explain how.

We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.

If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.

Why Spire Alexandra Hospital is the best choice

We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.

Rotator cuff surgery cost

Rotator cuff repair surgery is available from £5,961.

You can trust Spire Alexandra Hospital to provide you with a single, fixed price (1) so there are no surprises. And, through our carefully chosen partner (2) you can even be considered for interest free finance.

We’re here to help you with making these important choices, so you’re then free to concentrate on your treatment and on getting back to being you.

(1) Important: Please read Spire’s terms and conditions for full details of what’s included and excluded in your fixed price* when paying for yourself.

(2) Zebra Finance Ltd trading as Zebra Health Finance , Lincoln House, Stephensons Way, Wyvern Business Park, Derby, DE21 6LY. 

Find Spire Alexandra Hospital, Chatham, Kent (Near Maidstone)

You'll find us approximately eight miles from Maidstone and five miles from Chatham. London Gatwick Airport is approximately 45 miles away.

We offer services to patients throughout the South East of England and Kent particularly Medway and the surrounding areas including Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Sheppey and Maidstone.

Impton Lane, 

Hospital Reception: 01634 687 166

How to get here

By car

From M20 Junction 6

Follow signs for the A229 to Chatham. Stay on the A229 for little over a mile and take the exit signposted 'M2 London and Canterbury'. Turn right at the top of the slip road and then follow the signs for Walderslade and Lordswood, going over the M2 motorway. At the T-junction turn right, following signs for Lordswood and continue straight over the next roundabout. Take the third turning on the left into Impton Lane, then the first left into Orbit Close and the hospital entrance is on the left.

From M2 Junction 3

Follow the signs to Walderslade. At the T-junction turn right following signs for Lordswood and continue straight over the next roundabout. Take the third turning on the left into Impton Lane, then the first left into Orbit Close and the hospital is on the left.

By public transport

The nearest railway station is Chatham, a 10-minute taxi journey away. The hospital is also well served by buses, with the 169 and 179 buses stopping outside the hospital.

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Important to note

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.