Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. After surgery to repair this, I ended up with a condition called fibrous ankylosis and even less motion than before the operation. What causes this?


The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons around the shoulder. Pain and loss of motion occur when there’s a tear in one or more tendons of the rotator cuff. Sometimes, surgery to repair the tear is needed. A loss of motion is normal right after the operation. Most patients stay in a sling for the first few weeks. Certain movements such as shoulder flexion or outward rotatin are allowed right away. By the end of 12 weeks, most patients can move the joint in all directions. Fibrous ankylosis occurs when the shoulder can’t flex forward more than 120-degrees. This is about eye-level. It will allow you to reach the first or second shelf in most kitchens, but not the top shelf. It’s unclear what causes this condition. It may be the result of the type of operation. A recent study showed that fibrous ankylosis occurs more often when the doctor uses a combination of open incision and arthroscopic surgery. This means the doctor makes a cut to open the shoulder and then uses a tool with a tiny TV camera on the end to see inside the joint. Erik L. Severud, MD, et al. All-Arthroscopic Versus Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair: A Long-Term Retrospective Outcome Comparison. In Arthroscopy. March 2003. Vol. 19. No. 3. Pp. 234-238.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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