Expected cost of rotator cuff surgery abroad: 4,600-6,800 USD
Costa Rica [USA Joint Commission International-Accredited Hospital]
India [Harvard Medical Affiliated & USA Joint Commission International-Accredited Hospital]
Mexico [World Class Hospitals]
The rotator cuff is a part of the shoulder that has many muscles. It is the job of the rotator cuff and the surrounding tendons to provide stability to the shoulder. But the rotator cuff muscles are small and do not have great endurance.
If you are an athlete, you will perhaps frequently be doing overhead activities like swimming, or pitching over and over: this makes the muscles tired. The more they get fatigued, the more trouble they have holding the bones apart.
Since the rotator cuff tendons are between two bones, they begin to rub. As they rub, they get irritated. As they get irritated, the muscles lose strength and they get injured.
Athletes, weightlifters and those inclined towards frequent activities with repetitive movements of the shoulders can be susceptible to rotator cuff damage. Either a single accident or constant wear of the cuff over a prolonged period can be responsible for a tear in its tendons, causing pain and discomfort in the movement of the shoulder.
What is rotator cuff tightening?
Rotator cuff tightening is a surgical procedure to repair the tendons and four muscles that comprise the rotator. This restores strength and range of motion.
The tightening procedure involves re-attaching the part of the muscle that has become detached from the bone through a tear or lesion. The surgeon must first trim the acromion bone and remove the coracoacromial ligament before attending to the tear with stitches and possibly screws, depending on its seriousness.
How is the rotator cuff repair done?
Rotator cuff repair is a very complicated procedure, irrespective of whether it is done arthroscopically or through a ‘mini-open’ incision.
After the patient is properly seated and an anesthetic has been given, the shoulder is given a sterile wash and draped for surgery. Your surgeon examines the shoulder and checks the relative stability of the joint and the range of motion.
Next, a couple of very small (1cm) incisions, or ‘portals’ are made, usually one in the front and one behind the shoulder joint. Through these small portals, hollow instruments are placed that flush the inside of the shoulder joint with sterile saline to help visibility. The canulas (hollow instruments) allow the placement of an arthroscopic camera and specially designed instruments in the shoulder joint.
The surgeon moves the camera around the joint while he or she watches on the screen images captured by the camera. He/She will take photos of the interior of the joint to explain later to the patient what was found, and how it was repaired. This part of the surgery is called a ‘diagnostic arthroscopy’ and is important to assure the success of surgery in the shoulder (even if an MRI had been done earlier). This is because the arthroscopic examination of the joint is still the ‘gold standard’, or the most efficient way to understand what needs to be treated and how.
Once the surgeon understands what structures within the joint are damaged or torn, he or she will choose the best possible surgical approach. A highly-skilled surgeon who is comfortable with the anatomy of the joint and who has exceptional skills with arthroscopic instruments and implants can usually fix the problem without making large incisions.
The procedure takes approximately two to two and a half hours, but the preoperative and postoperative periods are double this time. Patients usually spend 1 or 2 hours in the recovery room. Patients who undergo keyhole or minimally invasive surgery are usually comfortable enough to go home the same day. Those undergoing more traditional open procedures may require a night’s stay at the hospital.
Arthroscopic and traditional open shoulder stabilization procedures may be performed under a general anesthetic or under a regional block that makes the shoulder and arm numb during and for several hours after the procedure. You can discuss your preferences with the anesthesiologist before surgery.
Who qualifies for rotator cuff repair?
Patients who demonstrate the following qualify for rotator cuff surgery:
- The rotator cuff injury has failed to improve with 3 to 6 months of conservative nonsurgical treatment (such as physical therapy).
- You need full shoulder strength and function, or you are young.
- You are in good enough health to recover from surgery and are willling to commit to a program of physical rehabilitation.
Advantages of rotator cuff repair
The advantages of rotator cuff repair are restoration of normal use and function to the shoulder, but rotator cuff repair surgery for a tear from a sudden injury works best if it is done within a few weeks of the injury. Repairs of very large tears are not always successful.
Rotator cuff surgery to repair worn out tendon tissue is less likely to work than surgery to repair an injury to a healthy tendon.
Disadvantages of rotator cuff repair
- Stiffness of the shoulder
- Failure of the surgery to relieve symptoms
- Failure of the repair to heal
- Weakness of the shoulder
- The need for additional surgery if tendons do not heal properly or tear again.
- Nerve damage
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Post-operative care for rotator cuff repair
- Patients usually take up to a month to complete recover. During the recovery period, they must rest the area of surgery and not use it at all.
- Individuals like athletes who want to continue heavy use of the cuff in the future are advised to practice regular strengthening exercises, which can be done easily at home.
- Discomfort after surgery can be managed with pain medications given by your doctor.
- Your arm will be put in a sling for some time to protect it, especially if you are at risk of injury.
A physical rehabilitation program after surgery is crucial to the success of the surgery. The program may consist of the following:
- As soon as you come to after the surgery, you may start flexing and extending your elbow, wrist, and hand.
- The day after surgery, depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you will be helped to do passive exercises that move your arm 4 to 5 times daily (a machine or physical therapist helps the joint through its range of motion).
- Active exercise (you exercise your arm yourself) with the guidance of a physical therapist, may start about 2 months after surgery. When this will start depends on how bad your tear was and how complex the surgical repair was.
- Strengthening exercises, beginning with light weights and moving on gradually to heavier weights, starts a few months after surgery.
Cheap rotator cuff surgery in India, Mexico, and Costa Rica
In the US, rotator cuff surgery can cost you upwards of $25,000, depending on the complexity of the tear and where you get the repair done. This cost usually does not cover the physical therapy costs.
Patients with rotator cuff disorders from the US, UK and other developed countries go to India, Mexico, and Costa Rica because the cost of rotator cuff surgery in these countries is phenomenally low. The price difference between India, Mexico, and Costa Rica and the developed countries is sometimes more than 50%.
The drop in cost does not come with a drop in quality. Quite the contrary. Top providers of medical tourism in India, Mexico, and Costa Rica are either accredited by JCI (which means they are as good as American hospitals) or have an ongoing collaboration with recognized medical institutions in the US.
Rotator cuff injury can be very painful and often take you away from your active life. But with the cost of medical care skyrocketing, many patients hesitate before going for surgery, as sometimes the co-pay is very high. With the advent of medical tourism, thankfully, finances will no longer stop you from getting back your healthy, pain-free shoulder.
Related shoulder surgery links:
Shoulder Replacement Abroad
Low cost shoulder Resurfacing
Medical Tourism Corporation facilitates affordable rotator cuff surgery in India, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Fill out the free estimate request form for a free quote & more information.