Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon in my shoulder. It's been eight months since the surgery and I feel fine. Even so, the surgeon says the tendon didn't heal completely and has torn again. How is this possible? I don't feel anything different.

Answer:

A failed rotator cuff tendon repair is usually defined as one that has torn all the way through the tendon again. This is called a full-thickness defect. Your experience is not uncommon. Studies report some question about how much tendon healing is linked with pain relief. Patients with poor tendon healing can still get full pain relief. This means that the symptoms are not an accurate gauge of tendon healing.

The primary difference you are likely to notice is in the area of strength. A complete repair is needed before you can get back your full muscular strength. Strength also depends on muscle quality and how much fat has filled in and around the muscle fibers.

It's also possible the rehab program can make a difference in outcomes but this remains an area of study at this time. Nikhil N. Verma, MD, et al. All-Arthroscopic Versus Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair: A Retrospective Review with Minimum 2-Year Follow-up. In The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery. June 2006. Vol. 22. No. 6. Pp. 587-594.

*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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