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What to Expect after Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator Cuff Surgery – Now What?

Rotator Cuff Surgery

My friend just recently had rotator cuff surgery and asked what he can do to help his recovery and what to expect over the next several weeks.  So to my friend and anyone else who has had rotator cuff surgery or is contemplating rotator cuff surgery, here are some helpful tips.

  1. Respect the healing process.  Following rotator cuff surgery your body needs time to heal.  There maybe certain restrictions that are given to you by your surgeon – they are given for a reason so pay attention.  We live in a world of instant everything and that isn’t how recovery from surgery works, so try and be patient.  Obviously, easier said than done.
  2. Ask questions.  Fear of the unknown can be a giant stumbling block.  Ask your surgeon and your physical therapist questions, so you can be comfortable with what is going on and create clear expectations.  I typically tell my patients that full recovery will take 6-12 months following major rotator cuff surgery.  Not that you won’t feel better and progress before 6-12 months, but that somewhere in that time frame (everybody is different) you will feel back to normal.
  3. Focus on motion.  In the early stage of recovery (first month or two) from rotator cuff surgery, don’t worry about strength.  The repair needs time to heal so don’t even think about lifting things, that will come with time.  You will never develop strength in movement that you don’t have so focus on restoring movement.  The bodies response to strength building is always the same regardless of if you start today, next week, next month, or next year.  However, regaining motion gets progressively more difficult the further removed you are from rotator cuff surgery.  (See video for a couple of basic motion exercises you can do following surgery)
  4. Be consistent.  You aren’t going to recover in a day or a week or a month.  But if you are consistent with your physical therapy and home stretches you will recover.  It is easy to get discouraged in the process, but keep doing all the little things that you have been taught, they all add up in the end.
  5. Listen to your body.  You are going to experience pain during your recovery, particularly with stretching as you push yourself to regain movement.  Be smart when it comes to pain.  Understand that it is your bodies way of communicating with you.  I tell my patients to bump into the pain and not plough through it.  Recognize true stretch pain as pain that comes on when you are stretching the shoulder and then dissipates when you stop stretching – that is normal.  Remember your surgeon and your physical therapist are there to help guide you in the process of recovery after rotator cuff surgery, but you are the one that feels your shoulder, so listen to your body and communicate what you are feeling.

Simple Range of Motion Stretches Following Rotator Cuff Surgery

To my friend and others out their that are going through recovery following Rotator Cuff surgery – GOOD LUCK!  I hope you found this information on recovery from rotator cuff surgery helpful.  Please feel free to leave comments and to share the information with your friends or family that may benefit from this information.

Life Begins When Pain Ends!


Medical Advice Disclaimer

The information included in this blog post and on this site are for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship

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Life Begins When Pain ENDS!

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