Rotator cuff injury care at Mayo Clinic

Your Mayo Clinic care team

At Mayo Clinic, orthopedic surgeons work with radiologists, physical therapists and other specialists to evaluate and treat rotator cuff injuries. This means that you're not getting just one opinion — you benefit from the knowledge and experience of each specialist on the multidisciplinary team.

Close collaboration enables the team to have your test results available quickly and to coordinate scheduling your appointments. Evaluation and treatment that might take months elsewhere can typically be done in only a matter of days at Mayo Clinic.

Surgeons discuss a rotator cuff procedure at Mayo Clinic.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Sometimes, a rotator cuff injury is so severe that the tendon can't be repaired. Mayo Clinic surgeons have helped develop unique tendon transfer techniques that broaden the selection of tendons used to restore shoulder function.

Mayo Clinic surgeons have also been involved in the design of reverse shoulder replacement procedures, which have been extremely useful for patients with severe rotator cuff problems.

For massive irreparable rotator cuff injuries, surgeons can implant a small biodegradable balloon that works as a spacer to reduce friction between the bones and muscles of the shoulder. This helps restore shoulder function and reduce pain.

Research and innovation

Surgeons and scientists collaborate to develop new solutions that improve rotator cuff healing, speed rehabilitation and improve the outcomes for people experiencing rotator cuff problems. At Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, specific rehabilitation protocols can improve rotator cuff function to prevent injury in high-level athletes or facilitate a return to high-demand activities for the weekend warrior.

I had the fun of playing kickball with the grandkids. They're faster than I am and I tripped up and landed on my right shoulder. And wow, I almost went out. The pain was pretty bad. I went to a physician at — an orthopedic specialist — who said, "Well, we could maybe tie it down." And I said, "I'd like a second opinion."

Mr. Lutz presented with a diagnosis of a severe rotator cuff tear — not just a tear, not just some damage, but a fairly substantial tear that would not be amenable to more minimally invasive repair techniques.

In the meantime, I'm driving at most with the car able to keep this hand on the lower part of this steering wheel. I just could not lift it. I couldn't get it shoulder high.

We used a special type of shoulder replacement for his condition. It's called a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. In simple terms, we do it backwards. We take a new artificial ball. We put it on the socket side. And take a plastic socket, and we put it on the ball side. Backwards in concept, but it changed the mechanics of the shoulder so it actually works quite well.

Well, when I wrecked the shoulder, I figured that probably I wasn't going to get to do some things that I have always enjoyed doing. Instead, it's every bit as good as it was before.

He is an example of what we can achieve with a virtual replacement. It is a man who gets excellent pain relief. And he achieved basically a near normal motion.

He has probably done more reverse shoulder surgeries than anyone else in the country.

It was introduced in the United States around 2004. And we were among the very first to use them. And we've developed an extensive experience history with this technique.

I'm a guy that asks all kinds of questions. And they answer them. And they answer them in ways that I can understand.

The patient is the driver of what we do. As a team — and the patient is part of the team, too — we can come to the decision on what the best care for them is.

One of the things I expected was maybe a little better golf. No. The game has not changed a bit. I still hit them in a drink. But it's a lot of fun. And again, I don't know I have an artificial shoulder in there I have no pain. It's marvelous.

Expertise and rankings

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic's shoulder surgeons are recognized nationally and internationally for their surgical technical excellence and innovative abilities to solve both simple and difficult rotator cuff problems. Each year Mayo Clinic sees thousands of people with rotator cuff injuries.
  • Treatment expertise. Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of new and innovative treatment options for injuries of the rotator cuff. Surgical options specific to each individual's injury, combined with advanced pain management and rehabilitation protocols, have helped Mayo Clinic dramatically improve the lives of people experiencing difficult shoulder problems.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report.

Learn more about Mayo Clinic's Orthopedic Surgery department's expertise and rankings.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

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Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

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May 11, 2023