Robert Rolf, M.D.
When you have a specific shoulder injury or condition, it is important to seek the care of a specialist. At Beacon Orthopaedics, we believe that the best care is provided by physicians who sub-specialize.
Hear and read true stories of my patients and their experiences with Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. An injury or chronic shoulder condition isn’t the end. We’ll work together to reduce your pain and improve your function.Read More
Your Shoulder Team
Meet the physician extenders, medical assistants, and schedulers that will guide you through recovery. My team is hand-picked and designed specifically to give you the best experience and fastest recovery we can.Read More
About Dr. Robert Rolf
Robert Rolf, M.D. is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of La Salle High School. He attended the University of Notre Dame where he received a BS in Chemical Engineering. After working as a Sales Engineer for two years, he returned to Cincinnati to study at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Dr. Rolf completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He continued his training as a shoulder and elbow specialist at the Boston Shoulder Institute at Harvard under the guidance of Jon JP Warner, M.D., Larry Higgins, M.D., and Tom Holovacs, M.D. He is not only board-certified in Orthopaedic Surgery, but also has his specialty certificate in Sports Medicine.
Throughout his fellowship he received extensive training in advanced arthroscopic techniques for shoulder instability and rotator cuff tears. He also received a world class experience in complex shoulder reconstructive procedures, including tendon transfers, shoulder replacement, and reverse shoulder replacement procedures. In addition, he has a strong interest in sports medicine as well as fracture management.
Dr. Rolf is the Co-Director of the Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine sports medicine fellowship program. This unique and highly competitive fellowship offers training to surgeons throughout the country about sports medicine and shoulder surgery.
When not at work, he stays busy with his four active children. His only saving grace is that his twins like the same sports!
1998-2002: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH; Doctor of Medicine
1992-1996: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN; B.S. Chemical Engineering
2004-2004: Emory University, Atlanta, GA; General Surgery Internship
2003-2006: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Resident
2007-2008: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Assistant in Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Shoulder Fellow
2010: Board Certified, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
2011: Subspecialty Certificate in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
Shoulder Treatment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Shoulder Arthritis?
Arthritis is a common disease that affects the shoulder, causing joint pain, stiffness and swelling. When a person gets arthritis, they lose cartilage or the cushion in the joint. Cartilage allows the joint to glide easily during motion. When cartilage wears, there is bone on bone rubbing which can be painful. In addition, the joint becomes inflamed and there is usually a restriction of motion.
How is Shoulder Arthritis diagnosed?
Many patients will complain of a deep ache that can radiate to the lateral arm. The pain usually gets worse with movement or activity. With time, there may even be pain at rest and eventually, patients will awaken at night with shoulder pain. Patients will complain of grinding and difficulty with motion. In the office, a physician will diagnose arthritis through a thorough physical exam and taking the proper x-rays.
What is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
In total shoulder replacement, the damaged surfaces of the humeral head and glenoid socket are resurfaced with metal and plastic implants. The humeral head is replaced with a metal component and the glenoid socket is replaced with a polyethylene component that is glued in with bone cement. When both sides of the shoulder are replaced, it is called a total shoulder replacement. When only the humeral head is replaced, it is called a shoulder hemiarthroplasty or a partial shoulder replacement.
What are some of the differences between Total Shoulder Replacement and Reverse Shoulder Replacement surgery?
A traditional total shoulder replacement matches natural shoulder anatomy. A reverse shoulder replacement inverts the natural anatomy of the ball and socket. Patients with joint damage but healthy surrounding tendons and muscles are often better candidates for traditional total shoulder replacements. When the tendons on top of the shoulder joint, often called the rotator cuff, are damaged, a reverse total shoulder replacement may be the best option. Following surgery, the inverted ball and socket joint can be moved using the deltoid.
Why should I consider Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Shoulder replacement surgery should be performed to alleviate pain and improve function. It is an excellent option for patients that have failed other conservative measures such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
What is the difference between a chronic torn rotator cuff and acute tear? Do both require surgery?
An acute rotator cuff tear is a tear that occurs after an injury. There is usually sudden pain in the shoulder accompanied by limited movement and weakness. A chronic tear is a tear that is greater than 6 to 12 weeks old. They usually involve the dominant arm and gradually worsen. People may develop weakness. There are many functioning patients with chronic tears. At sixty, fifty percent of asymptomatic patients would have a partial thickness rotator cuff tear if they had an MRI. At 80, fifty percent of patients would have a full thickness tear (all the way through). Chronic tears usually require surgery if the patient has persistent pain or weakness despite 6-12 weeks of physical therapy. Most acute rotator cuff tears or tears in young patients should be fixed surgically.
Do you have to repair a torn bicep even if it was injured months ago?
The biceps is a muscle on the front of the shoulder that allows a person to flex and supinate the elbow. It has two muscle bellies, the long head of the biceps that inserts on the labrum at the top of the shoulder socket and the short head of the biceps that inserts on the front of the scapula at its coracoid. At the elbow, the bicep muscle bellies merge into one tendon that inserts into the radius. Surgery is typically recommended when it is the dominant arm and the patient’s job requires significant use of the arm. Surgery is not always recommended for ruptures that occur near the shoulder at the long head of the biceps. Most people respond well to physical therapy.
I don’t want surgery but I can’t lift my arm, would therapy help relieve the pain?
There are many reasons a person may have pain in the shoulder and not all of them need to be treated surgically. Most shoulder ailments improve with physical therapy. It is helpful to have a thorough physical exam so that physical therapy can be guided appropriately. Sometimes, a platelet rich plasma (PRP) or steroid injection can be helpful.
“Dr. Rolf is very good. He listens attentively, seems genuinely concerned and makes sure he addresses all of your concerns. He has done a great job of caring for my needs. The surgery went great and my recovery is going well.”
– Pamela F.
“I have had both shoulders replaced by Dr, Rolf and highly recommend him and Beacon Ortho PT. I now have no pain in either shoulder and another plus was that billing is very good at their job! Thanks for everything!”
Dr. Robert Rolf currently sees patients at Beacon West on Harrison Avenue, Summit Woods in Sharonville, Beacon at the Cincinnati Sports Club on Red Bank, Beacon NKY in Erlanger, and Beacon Batesville in Indiana.
His Physician Assistant, Lee Reynolds, sees patients at the Beacon West office and Batesville office. His Nurse Practioner, Brian Burger sees patients at the Summit Woods, Beacon West, and Cincinnati Sports Club offices.
Schedule an introductory consultation with Dr. Rolf to find out how to best return to the activities you love. By clicking this button, you can schedule online in real time!
Interested in seeing Dr. Rolf, but the Harrison Avenue location isn’t convenient for you? Fortunately, Dr. Rolf now sees patients at the Sharonville location of Beacon Orthopaedics on Friday mornings!Book an Appointment
Physical Therapy Protocols
Below you will find a list of physical therapy protocols that can be followed after having a procedure performed by Dr. Rolf. These are intended to provide guidelines of progression in recovery. They include weight bearing status, ranges of motion, use of a brace, exercises or stretches, and other information.
ACL Hamstring Tendon Autograft
Arthroscopic Shoulder Capsular Release
Arthroscopic Labral Repair
Arthroscopic Partial Medial or Lateral Meniscectomy
Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
Arthroscopic Subacromial Decompression
Distal Biceps Repair
Hemiarthroplasty for Proximal Humerus Fractures
Interval Throwing Program
Lateral Epicondylitis Release
MCL Repair with MPFL Repair
Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Repair
Nonoperative Management of Proximal Humerus Fractures
ORIF Proximal Humerus Fracture
Proximal Hamstring Repair
Quadricep Tendon Rupture
Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty
Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty with Latissimus Dorsi Transfer
Superior/Anterior Labral “SLAP” Repair
Subpectoral Biceps Tenodesis
Total Knee Replacement
Total Shoulder and Hemiarthroplasty
Patellar Fracture with ORIF