Al Roker Undergoes Shoulder Surgery

Weather anchor Al Roker was notably absent this morning on the Today show. That’s because he’s had surgery on his shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff.

As Al tweeted:

al tweet

According to fellow anchor Matt Lauer, the surgery went well and Al was doing fine this morning.

As you know, Roker underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2002, and has subsequently loss over 130 pounds. He has also become an avid exercise fan. As he discussed on Dateline, his new diet and exercise regimen includes:

  • Every morning at 4:30 AM, he bikes two miles to the office.
  • At the office, he uses a treadmill desk.
  • A diet of whole, unprocessed foods that are high in protein and low in carbs.
  • For breakfast and lunch, he drinks protein shakes with almond milk and berries.
  • His workout routine, called “The Slow Method,” requires he exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. The strength training plan creates more lean body mass which in turn burns more calories.

What Are the Parts of the Shoulder?

shoulder_ffThe shoulder joint is made up of bones held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Tendons are tough cords of tissue that hold the shoulder muscles to bones. They help the muscles move the shoulder. Ligaments hold the three shoulder bones to each other and help make the shoulder joint stable.

The four muscles of the rotator cuff include:

●Teres minor


What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed from frequent use or aging. Sometimes they are injured from a fall on an outstretched hand. Sports or jobs with repeated overhead motion can also damage the rotator cuff. Aging causes tendons to wear down, which can lead to a tear. Some tears are not painful, but others can be very painful.

Although a rotator cuff tear can be asymptomatic, the most common symptoms include shoulder pain and weakness. The severity of the tear doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of the symptoms experienced. A completely torn cuff may result in little or no pain, and a partial tear may be quite painful.

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?

The ultimate goals of rotator cuff tear treatment include:

  • Reducing pain
  • Increasing shoulder mobility
  • Decreasing tendinitis (if present)

For most, conservative treatment is adequate. This includes:

  •  Rest
  • Heat or cold to the sore area
  • Medicines that reduce pain and swelling
  • Electrical stimulation of muscles and nerves
  • Ultrasound
  • Cortisone injection
  • Exercise to improve range-of-motion, strength, and function

Surgery is usually reserved for moderate to large tears or tears that do not respond to conservative treatment.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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