There were two employees in our office who had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. One person had a great result and has come back to work already. The other worker is still off with pain, depression, and loss of function. How do you account for the differences?

Many things can affect the outcome of rotator cuff repairs. First, the severity of the tendon tear is important. A full tear can require a more complicated operation. A partial tear with a small repair may heal faster and rehab sooner.

Second the type of surgery makes a difference. Did the doctor use an arthroscope and go into the joint with a special tool to make the repair? Or was a full cut needed to open the joint up? Arthroscopy usually means faster recovery.

Third, what's the general health of the patient? Anyone with other health problems may be facing some extra complications. For example the client who has diabetes, high blood pressure, or lung or heart problems may have some special problems after the operation. There's always a concern about infection, poor wound healing, and blood clots after an operation of any kind. Patients with any of the problems listed here can be at increased risk for these complications.