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What to Expect after a Rotator Cuff Repair

What to Expect after a Rotator Cuff Repair
What to Expect after a Rotator Cuff Repair

Recovering from rotator cuff repair surgery can be a difficult and painful process. But knowing what to expect and taking the right precautions will help you endure the temporary discomfort ensuring a smooth return to routine activities.

Immediately after surgery, your arm will be placed in a sling which may have to be used for about 4-6 weeks to allow proper healing of the surgical area and to serve as a reminder of lifting restrictions as you get stronger. If stitches are used, they will be removed within 2 weeks.

You may need a friend or family member to help you with household chores for the first few days after surgery. While changing your clothes or performing other activities of daily living, make sure your arm is close to side to avoid inadvertently moving the shoulder and exacerbating painful symptoms.

You will experience some amount of pain during the postoperative phase for which you will be recommended pain medications. It is important to remember the pain is temporary and most people are able to wean off pain medications within 10-14 days.

Trouble sleeping for the first 2 weeks after a rotator cuff repair is a very common complaint. You may have to stack up pillows on your bed to prevent rolling onto the operated shoulder while sleeping or sleep on a recliner for a couple of weeks. Keep a small table next to your recliner where you can keep your pain medications, mobile phone, a bottle of water, and other things that you use often so they are within easy reach.

You may be able to start physical therapy a couple days after rotator cuff repair if your tear is a small one. For a larger repair, you may have to wait 2 weeks before undergoing physical therapy. Performing the rehabilitation exercises exactly as instructed by your surgeon or physical therapist are a very important part of your recovery. Doing too little PT can result in loss of shoulder mobility and trying to do too much may cause a re-tear of the rotator cuff.

The specialists at South Palm Orthopedics use cutting-edge minimally invasive surgical techniques and provide detailed postoperative instructions to ensure a positive surgical outcome; and will be happy to clarify any doubts about activities you can or cannot do during your recovery.

South Palm Orthopedics is a medical practice devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system. Our orthopedic surgeons have advanced fellowship training in the areas of hand & wrist, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, trauma and fractures, foot and ankle, and sports medicine. The physicians of South Palm Orthopedics are committed to providing the highest level of orthopedic care to each and every patient each and every time.