Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery Timeline


Rotator cuff surgery is a common treatment for a rotator cuff tear . Most rotator cuff tears are treated without surgery , but there may be times when surgery is the best treatment. In some cases, surgery is considered immediately after the injury, while in other situations, surgery is only the last step when all other treatments have failed .

Surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff is sometimes the simplest and simplest aspect of treatment, while rehabilitation and recovery are the most difficult.

Tetra Images / Getty Images

People who have undergone rotator cuff surgery must understand each stage of rehabilitation, as a successful outcome largely depends on the healing and rehabilitation that follows the surgery. Here is a chart of the basic steps after rotator cuff surgery.

Surgery day

Rotator cuff surgery is done on an outpatient basis. An overnight stay in the hospital is generally not required. The surgical procedure generally takes several hours, depending on the amount of work required to repair the torn tendons.

After surgery, you will be wrapped in a bandage on your arm. For rotator cuff repair, a sling that holds the arm slightly to the side (abduction bandage) is generally recommended as it keeps the tendons in a more relaxed position. You will stay in the hospital until your pain is adequately controlled.

First days

Adequate pain control should be ensured in the first few days after rotator cuff surgery. Your doctor will prescribe medicine to help ease the discomfort.

It can be helpful to try different types of medications ; many doctors recommend alternating prescription drugs with anti- inflammatory drugs. And don't forget the shoulder frosting . Applying ice can be the most important part of pain relief .

Always try to prevent the pain from getting worse by taking smaller doses of pain relievers at the first sign of discomfort, rather than larger doses when the pain is more severe.

Sleep at night

Sleeping after shoulder surgery can be a problem. Even mild shoulder pain can interfere with a good night's sleep.

Many people find it more comfortable to sleep in a semi-upright position after rotator cuff surgery; the chair is perfect. If you don't have a recliner, just grab a lot of pillows and make a headboard so you can sleep in a sitting position with your elbow pointing down.

Sleeping pills can be just as helpful as pain relievers, as a good night's sleep can help control pain as much as anything else.

Recovery phase 1: passive movement

The first phase of recovery is just a passive move. This can take up to 6 weeks, depending on the size of the rotator cuff tear and the strength of the repair .

Passive movement means that the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff are not working. When the rotator cuff muscles contract, the repair stretches. Passive movement means that the shoulder moves effortlessly to be repaired.

To perform a passive movement, the therapist will move the shoulder back. The therapist can also teach you how to move your own shoulder without contracting the rotator cuff muscles.

Recovery phase 2: active movement

Active movement begins when the tendons have healed enough to allow the arm to move, but before additional resistance is applied. You may be restricted to vigorous movement for 12 weeks from the date of surgery. Active movement means that you can move your own hand, but not against resistance .

Recovery Phase 3: Fortify

The strengthening phase of recovery is the most important. Due to trauma, surgery, and early healing, the rotator cuff muscles became weak. Once your recovery has fully healed, it is important to begin strengthening your muscles so that you can return to your normal activity level.

The rotator cuff muscles do not require heavy weights to be effectively strengthened. A trained therapist can instruct you on techniques to target the muscles you need to strengthen so that only light resistance bands or weights can provide a great workout.

Recovery phase 4: full activity

Full recovery from rotator cuff surgery usually takes 4 to 6 months and, in some cases, longer. Critical factors determining the duration of recovery are the size of the rotator cuff tear, the ability to adequately repair tendons, and adherence to rehabilitation.

Knowing when to go from one stage of rehabilitation to the next is an art. Not all people undergo rehabilitation in the same way and everyone must adhere to the prescribed rehabilitation protocol.

Discuss any questions you have about rehabilitation with your surgeon.

Get the word of drug information

This is an overview of the rehabilitation steps after rotator cuff surgery. Keep in mind that every patient, every tear, and every operation is slightly different.

While these steps are a useful guide, each patient should discuss their specific progress with their surgeon. Your progress may be faster or slower depending on several factors.

While it is tempting to compare your progress with friends, family, or new acquaintances in the therapy room, their recovery may not be the same as yours. Make sure you know where you may need extra protection or extra time to get your shoulder back in optimal shape.

Related Articles
Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth From Radiation

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of radiation therapy for people undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. Read more

Thyroid adenoma: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat that produces hormones affecting a number of Read more

NSAIDs and You Thyroid Function

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently taken over-the-counter medications. Due to their systemic or whole body effects, it's Read more

How Doctors Are Failing Thyroid Disease Patients

The thyroid disease community has continually mentioned the lack of support they experience and the difficulty they have navigating the Read more