New study points to top reasons patients chose rotator cuff surgery

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The buildup of scar tissue makes recovery from torn rotator cuffs, jumper's knee, and other tendon injuries a painful, challenging process, often leading to secondary tendon ruptures. New

New study points to top reasons patients chose rotator cuff surgery

Santa Rosa Orthopaedic’s (SRO) Dr. Michael McDermott shares insights on arthroscopic rotator cuff repair patient study 

Research queried 149 patients prior to arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR) to determine the underlying reasons for choosing surgery. “Results of this study reflects sentiments we hear from our own patients,” says Santa Rosa Orthopaedic’s (SRO) Dr. Michael McDermott. “Improving shoulder function and increase range of motion is something patients who suffer a rotator cuff injury most often talk about, and it turns out to be the most common reason for choosing ARCR for many patients.”

Additional reasons cited in the study include alleviating chronic pain, concern for the condition worsening from tear enlargement and an inability to sleep due to discomfort. Researchers found that through arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR), patients consistently saw significant functional improvements and relief from pain. Follow-up evaluations showed that the patients’ objectives were achieved by surgery.

Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff tears of the shoulder is not an uncommon cause of pain and disability among adults. Recent studies indicate that more than two million people in the US seek treatment for a rotator cuff problem annually. “A torn rotator cuff will weaken the shoulder making it difficult for patients to accomplish even simple daily activities, like getting dressed in the morning or making the bed. This type of injury can become extremely painful and debilitating. Although treatments vary, we work with patients to help them make the best decisions for their individual lifestyles,” explained Dr. McDermott.

Making sense of shoulder pain

The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that converge as tendons to form a covering around the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate the arm to create stability and movement. A tendon can be torn through a traumatic injury or it can fray slowly over time and become dysfunctional as part of the natural aging process. Rotator cuff tears are presented as complete tears where the tendon has been torn in half or torn off the bone, and partial tears that result in soft tissue damage without completely severing the rotator cuff.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, most rotator cuff tears are caused by normal wear and tear and people over 40 are at greater risk. People whose daily activities require repetitive lifting are also at risk for rotator cuff tears, and athletes are especially vulnerable to overuse tears. Although overuse tears due to sports injury or overhead work may also occur in younger people, most tears in that group tend to be a result of traumatic injury, such as a fall.

Rotator Cuff Surgery Improving Patient Outcomes

“The goal of any treatment is to reduce pain and restore function,” explains Dr. McDermott. “And, there are a number of treatment options available for a rotator cuff tear, although treatment is unique for each patient. But in those cases where surgery is called for, a damaged rotator cuff can be repaired through either open surgery or arthroscopic surgery under general anesthesia.”

“The vast majority of our patients who undergo arthroscopic rotator cuff repair report improved shoulder strength and a dramatic decrease in pain following surgery,” he added. At the end of this study and six months post-operation, American Shoulder and Elbow Society (ASES) Scores in the group queried showed significant improvement overall indicating that ARCR is a good option for patients seeking to improve shoulder function and reduce pain.

About McDermott and SRO

Dr. McDermott

Dr. Michael McDermott is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and other orthopaedic problems, with emphasis on arthroscopic, complex reconstruction and minimally invasive procedures of the knee, hip and shoulder. Dr. McDermott has specialized training in reverse total shoulder as well as Mako Robotic assisted patient specific hip and knee replacement. He is experienced in advanced arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the knee and shoulder, in addition to sports medicine, adult reconstructive, joint replacement, minimally invasive procedures, as well as general orthopaedic surgery. Dr. McDermott’s particular areas of interest include knee ligament reconstruction, shoulder stabilization and rotator cuff surgery.

SRO is a leading destination for total joint replacement surgeries of the hip, knee and shoulder in Northern California. The program is facilitated by five board certified surgeons specializing in total joint replacement. SRO’s state-of-the-art sports medicine and rehabilitation center provides veteran physical and occupational therapists, medical assistants and in house diagnostic imaging to patients. For more information about SRO surgeons, visit or call 707.546.1922.

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