Not all rotator cuff tears can be fixed perfectly. However, even in the worst cases you may obtain some degree of pain relief and improvement in your quality of life with different strategies.
If you have surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff, there are 3 potential scenarios for your rotator cuff.
Your rotator cuff will either be:
- Fully Reparable
- Irreparable or
- Partially Reparable.
Ideally every rotator cuff tear that I attempt to repair would be completely repairable. That is, I would be able to reattach the torn tissue right back to where it normally lives. Unfortunately we live in the real world and this is not always the case.
For various reasons including tissue quality and scarring, rotator cuff tears cannot always be fixed perfectly. In these cases I try first to perform a partial repair. That is, I may repair part of the tissue back to its normal bone attachment. Or I may make the hole in the tendon smaller with various stitching techniques.
Usually a partial repair will still give patients good pain relief; although the longevity and quality of that relief might be more variable than if the tendon was fully repairable.
Sometimes a tear is so big or chronic that it just can’t be repaired at all. Your history, your physical exam and an MRI prior to surgery will help me counsel you as to whether you might have a tear like this.
If you have a tear that is not reparable DON’T LOSE HOPE. Surgery can sometimes still provide pain relief. Sometimes just smoothing the rough edges of torn tissue or releasing the biceps tendon can provide improvements compared with doing nothing.
There are also more complicated salvage techniques for which select patients with irreparable tears may be good candidates.
If you know that you need rotator cuff repair and are interested in learning more about whether you can be helped with surgery please contact is for a personal consultation.
Dr. DiPaola has performed hundreds of rotator cuff operations. He routinely performs arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery on even large tears and is adept at the proper non operative rehabilitation of rotator cuff injuries. He also has experience treating difficult to manage rotator cuff problems such as large tears, old tears, repeat tears and rotator cuff tears associated with arthritis.