Subscapularis Rotator Cuff Surgery Overview

The subscapularis muscle is the largest and strongest muscle in the rotator cuff, providing an estimated 53% of total strength. The muscle and its attached tendon play a critical role in turning the arm upward and providing overhead lifting abilities. A tendon tear of the subscapularis is relatively uncommon compared to the other three rotator cuff tendons. In the majority of cases, an arthroscopic subscapularis repair is required to return full function to the shoulder joint if a tear occurs. Dr. Jonathan Ticker, Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens & NYC area orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist, specializes in numerous forms of rotator cuff surgery, including a subscapularis tendon repair.

Patients often experience a subscapularis tendon tear during a fall, typically a fall onto an outstretched hand or if the arm experiences abduction away from the body. Even though the injury is commonly a partial tear, a rotator cuff surgery is often recommended by Dr. Ticker. Low demand patients, such as elderly patients, may be prescribed conservative treatment measures if they are not ideal candidates for a subscapularis tendon repair.

The overall goal of an arthroscopic subscapularis repair is to reattach the torn tendon back to its original attachment site on the humerus (upper arm bone). Dr. Ticker will perform this procedure as a minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery utilizing several tiny incisions at the front of the shoulder. The subscapularis tendon is inspected in great detail and then reattached to the humerus using strong sutures. If the biceps tendon (located directly beside the subscapularis tendon) is also damaged, Dr. Ticker may also perform a biceps tenodesis during the same procedure. A biceps tenodesis is designed to release the biceps tendon from inside the shoulder and then reattach it to the humerus. The new attachment site is designed to prevent the biceps tendon from slipping out of its groove and causing patients ongoing irritation and pain.

Arthroscopic Subscapularis Repair Recovery and Rehabilitation

Healing after an arthroscopic subscapularis repair is relatively slow compared to other forms of rotator cuff surgery. Patients will be expected to protect the repaired joint for at least six months following the procedure. Early passive range of motion exercises will be prescribed and monitored by Dr. Ticker and his orthopedic team to help reduce the risk of scar tissue formation, as well as to begin returning strength and mobility to the affected joint. Patients will then progress through a detailed physical therapy program until a full recovery is achieved.

Arthroscopic Subscapularis Repair Recovery Time

The majority of patients report diminished symptoms and full joint function after undergoing this procedure.  It is important to note it can take up to six months for patients to achieve the desired result.

For additional resources on an arthroscopic subscapularis repair, a rotator cuff surgery technique, please contact Dr. Jonathan Ticker, orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist proudly serving the greater Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens & NYC areas.