What To Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery? (Recovery Period)

Rotator cuff is one of the most common sports injuries, especially in baseball and tennis, or in jobs like painting or cleaning the windows. Rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that stabilize our shoulder joint and let you lift and rotate your arms. However, the situation is quite painful for people who actively participate in sports and related jobs.

What To Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery? (Recovery Period)

What To Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery?(Recovery Period)

Rotator cuff surgery is sometimes most straightforward approach to treat rotator cuff injuries. The rehabilitation is quite challenging, but it also gives very good results if you take care of few things like proper rest, nutrition, and good physical therapy. The patient must understand this and participate responsibly in the rehab program. Complete recovery time after Rotator cuff surgery varies from somewhere between 6 months to a year and is affected by many factors such as age of the patient, severity of the tear etc. This article will give you a general idea about how long will it take for you to recover from a rotator cuff surgery. Each patient recovers at a different pace. Let’s have a look at the way the things go after the rotator cuff surgery.

What Happens On The Day Of Surgery Of Rotator Cuff Surgery?

Rotator cuff surgery takes a few hours depending on the severity of the condition and the extent of repairing that needs to be done. The operated arm is placed on an abduction sling after the surgery as these slings hold the rotator cuff in a more relaxed position. Your hospital stay following Rotator cuff surgery will depend on how adequately your pain is controlled.

What Happens in The First Few Days After Rotator Cuff Surgery?

You may feel tired for several days after the rotator cuff surgery. You may notice swelling in the operated arm which is normal and will get better in a few days. Initially following the Rotator cuff surgery, the focus will be on controlling the pain. You must ensure that you take appropriate doses of medications according to the prescription whenever you are in pain. You must try to keep the pain controlled and not let it become severe. Many doctors suggest that you should keep changing your narcotics with anti-inflammatory medications. You should refrain from consuming alcohol or driving while on these medications. Icing the shoulder is another important part of pain control followingr rotator cuff surgery.

You may not be able to sleep well. Getting a proper sleep is also crucial in one’s smooth recovery from rotator cuff surgery. You will not be able to lie flat on the bed or sleep on your side. Most of the patients are more comfortable in a semi-upright position. This position can be achieved either by recliners or by putting 2-3 pillows so that it allows you to sleep in a seated position. Medications can be taken for a sound sleep too.

Bathing depends on the type of rotator cuff surgery you have undergone. Arthroscopic surgery patients can take bath after 48 to 72 hours. You must take precautions given to you at the time of discharge. If the Rotator cuff surgery was an open surgery, do not shower until you doctors Okays it.

Diet should be as tolerated. Irregular bowel movements are common after surgeries. Try eating bland and low-fat foods if that is the case. Taking high-fiber supplements may help too. You can ask your doctor for a mild laxative in case of constipation.

Range of Motion After Rotator Cuff Surgery

One of the toughest part for the patient post-surgically is getting used to the restriction placed upon activities of daily living by limited range of motion.

For about 3 to 4 weeks post rotator cuff surgery, you will not be using your arm much. You can do writing, eating, or drinking but nothing beyond the prescribed exercise limits. After removing the sling you can do activities that do not involve carrying, lifting, pulling or pushing. Overhead lifting will not be allowed before 6 to 12 months.

During first recovery phase of 4 to 6 weeks following Rotator cuff surgery, it is advised to use the arm very sparingly. Reducing inflammation and reducing scar tissue buildup is the key for a successful recovery. Passive range of motion can be started at this stage where your therapist will help you move your shoulder.

The second recovery phase of Rotator cuff surgery involves active range of motion if sufficient healing of tendons is there. This may go on for about 12 weeks. Active range of motion means you can move your arm but not against resistance.

The third recovery phase following Rotator cuff surgery involves strengthening. The rotator cuff muscles become weak due to all the restricted movements. Hence, it is crucial to begin strengthening once the healing has been done. This allows the patient to resume their activities of daily living. The patient is put through a series of exercises aimed at increasing shoulder strength and power. By 16 to 24 weeks following Rotator cuff surgery you are ready to go back to your regular physical activities.

Understanding when to progress from which phase to which one is the job of an expert therapist. Make sure you chose an experienced therapist to get the best results.

Followup is very important in ensuring a complete and smooth recovery post Rotator cuff surgery. You must go to all appointments and call your doctor if you notice anything unusual. Watch closely for any changes in your health and call your doctor for the same.

Precautions: You Must Seek Immediate Medical Care If:

  • There is numbness, tingling, or bluish coloration to your fingers or hand
  • There is severe nausea or vomiting
  • There are any signs of infection
  • The stitches are loose or open
  • The pain still remains after pain killers
  • There is temperature above 101 degree F.

The period after the Rotator cuff surgery is as important as the surgery itself as that is the time when you start regaining your health back to your normal. You must ensure that every step of recovery is being taken care of properly and should be very alert about any changes in your health.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 28, 2019

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