Skip to Content

Rotator Cuff Tear Repair


Rotator cuff repair is surgery to fix a tear in one or more of your rotator cuff tendons. A tendon is a cord of tough tissue that connects your muscles to your bones. The rotator cuff is made up of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Interscalene block: An interscalene block uses medicine to numb your shoulder and arm. The medicine is given as a shot in your neck. You are awake during surgery. You may also be given other medicine to make you sleepy. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel pain. This block may also be given with general anesthesia. If so, you will be completely asleep during surgery. The block will help decrease the pain when you wake up after surgery.

During your surgery:

  • Your healthcare provider makes an incision in your shoulder to see the tendons that need to be repaired. He may remove damaged tissue in your shoulder or bone if it is pressing on your rotator cuff tendons. If the bursa (small sack of fluid around the joint) is swollen, your healthcare provider may remove it.
  • If the rotator cuff tear is small, your healthcare provider may sew it back together. If the tear is big, he may have to attach the tendon to the bone in your shoulder. This can be done with stitches and a bone anchor to hold the tendon to the bone. A graft (a piece of another muscle or tissue) may need to be used to attach and repair the tendon. Your healthcare provider may need to reshape your shoulder bone to help it stay in place. Healthcare providers use stitches to close the incision, and then the wound is covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

Do not get out of bed until your healthcare providers say it is okay. Later, you will be taken to a hospital room or you may be able to go home. A healthcare provider may remove your bandage to check the area of your surgery.

  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Sling: Your arm may be in an abduction immobilizer sling. This sling stops your arm from moving. The pillow attached to the sling holds your arm away from your body. This position decreases pressure on the surgery area, and helps blood flow to the area to help it heal.
  • Cold therapy: Your healthcare provider may put ice or a cold pack on your shoulder. This treatment may decrease pain, swelling, and muscle spasms.


  • You may get an infection from this surgery. This surgery may cause muscles in your shoulder to become weak, which can decrease your ability to use your shoulder. Your tendon may not heal, and your arm and shoulder may be weak and painful. If a graft was used for your repair, you may have swelling and get an infection around the graft. After surgery, tissue around the joint can swell and become stiff. This can cause new pain and problems with moving your arm. The anchor used to fix your tear may press on the tendon and cause pain. Your tendon may tear after surgery, and you may need to have surgery again.
  • If you do not have this surgery, your tear might get larger, and your shoulder muscles may get smaller. These problems make it harder to repair the tear at a later time. Torn tendons cannot hold the bones of your joint in place, so the bones may press on the tendons. This can damage your rotator cuff, and be painful. Your pain may increase, and your shoulder may swell up and change shape. You may not be able to do activities such as lifting your arm over your head.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Rotator Cuff Tear Repair (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes