What To Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery

If you have a torn or damaged rotator cuff, the best solution is usually to undergo surgery to have the tissues repaired. The postoperative period can be a bit challenging, but once you are healed, you will be able to use your shoulder effectively again, with little to no pain or stiffness. Here are a few questions people often have during that postoperative recovery period.

How long do you need to take off from work?

This varies depending on how fast your body heals and what your job entails. Most people can return to limited movement within about six weeks. If you have an office job or a job that does not require much physical movement, you may be able to go back after this time. However, it will be a few months before you're able to do any sort of lifting and longer before you can lift without any restrictions, so if you're in a more active job, you should plan on taking at least three months or so off.

How bad will the pain be?

The pain after rotator cuff surgery can be pretty intense for the first two or three days after surgery, but your doctor can give you plenty of tools to manage it. They should prescribe pain relievers to keep the discomfort at bay; make sure you take them on schedule, rather than waiting for the pain to appear first. You'll also be given an ice machine or ice packs to keep on your shoulder. These keep swelling at bay, and by keeping swelling down, you'll ease the discomfort. The pain should greatly reduce within a few days and should only be noticeable when you move after a week or two.

Do you need to attend physical therapy?

Absolutely. Physical therapy is essential if you want to regain your range of motion. You probably won't start attending until at least 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Your body needs time to heal before you start putting strain on your shoulder. Your therapist will guide you through exercises that will be painful at first but that will become easier with time. They will also prescribe you exercises to do at home. Do not slack on your physical therapy — it is the key to a full recovery.

If you have lingering questions about what to expect after rotator cuff surgery, don't be afraid to ask your doctor or physical therapist.

For more information, contact a company like Hands-On Physical Therapy .