Using this guide What's covered
What is a rotator cuff?
Your rotator cuff is a set of 4 muscles with tendons that join your shoulder blade (scapula) up with your arm bone (humerus). They work together to enable your arm to move through its full range of motion. They also keep the joint stable. When you damage your rotator cuff, you can experience pain, difficulty moving your arm and instability in the joint.
Your rotator cuff can be damaged through trauma or from wear and tear. The wear and tear may result from ageing or it can happen sooner if you do a lot of heavy work that involves your shoulder.
What is rotator cuff surgery?
If your rotator cuff is damaged, and other methods have failed, you may need to have it repaired surgically. Surgery involves identifying and repairing tears to the rotator cuff.
How is it done?
Rotator cuff surgery can be done in 3 different ways:
- An open repair, uses a large surgical incision, and may be preferable if the tear is large and complex.
- An arthroscopic repair uses a keyhole technique where your surgeon performs the surgery through 2 or 3 small (1 to 2cm) incisions.
- With a mini-open repair your surgeon uses an arthroscope to examine the damage, then makes an incision to perform the surgery.
Where is it done?
Rotator cuff surgery is done in a hospital. It’s normally done as same-day surgery without an overnight stay.
How long does it take?
It normally takes between 1 and 2 hours but it depends on the complexity of the surgery.
Who is involved?
- An orthopaedic surgeon
- possibly an assistant surgeon
- radiologist (for X-rays)
- occupational therapist.
CONSIDERING THE PROCEDURE
Alternatives to rotator cuff surgery
There may be alternatives to rotator cuff surgery depending on your condition.
Types of rotator cuff surgery
There are different types of rotator cuff surgery.
Results vs risks of the procedure
The benefits and risks of rotator cuff surgery.
Choosing a specialist
How to find an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in this procedure.
Give us feedback
HOSPITAL SAFETY & QUALITY SEARCH
Compare hospital safety and quality data before deciding where you're treated.
Find a doctor
Search for specialists who participate in our Medicover no-gap or known-gap scheme.
Find a health professional
Search for providers who participate in our More for You program. Find physios, chiros, podiatrists and more.
MANAGE YOUR HEALTH
Programs and resources to set you up for a healthier future.