If you’re suffering from persistent, long-term shoulder pain, you’ve lost your strength or range of motion in your shoulder, and you feel like you’ve tried everything (ice, rest, painkillers, waiting) — It’s time to consult an orthopaedic doctor.
Rotator cuff tears are found in 30-50% of the population ages 50+ and are one of the most common injuries to require surgical treatment. However, the longer you wait to seek help, the lower the chances of recovery are. Optimal healing is contingent on remaining proactive, diligent, and healthy.
After consulting with a doctor, they’ll likely order medical imaging tests to determine the extent of your injury. If your rotator cuff tear goes deeper than 50% of the tendon, you will need surgery. Surgery is usually arthroscopic, outpatient, minimally invasive, and highly effective, meaning that the real challenge comes afterwards, in the weeks and months of recovery.
Recovery may last 6 months to over a year. During this period, you’ll wear a sling at first and work with a physical therapist to build up strength and mobility. With time and effort, you should be able to recover your entire range of motion. Keep reading to learn an orthopaedic surgeon’s tips for improving your outcome and ensuring fast, efficient recovery from rotator cuff surgery.
5 Tips For Recovering From Rotator Cuff Surgery
1. Sling Stays On 24/7. For the first 4-6 weeks after surgery, you must wear your sling all the time. You shouldn’t drive, lift objects, or use your shoulder/arm in any manner. Wait a few weeks to fly or return to work. This can be very difficult, but it is vital to begin your recovery process.
2. Watch For Complications. If you have a fever, numbness, unusual pain, or swelling in/around your injury, seek help. Complications are rare, but they can happen. Be sure to keep your shoulder clean/disinfected.
3. Be Mindful Of How You Sleep. The position you sleep in can impact your quality of sleep as well as your recovery process. Many people prefer to sleep in a slightly upright or reclined position, with the elbow pointing downward. This keeps your shoulder elevated and limits unnecessary pressure on the injury.
4. Don’t Compare Yourself. It’s easy to compare your recovery to friends or family who have undergone the same injury. Don’t. Each person’s recovery timeline, pain levels, and outcome is entirely different. Focus on your journey and pay attention to how you really feel, not how you think you should feel.
5. Don’t Rush it. Your physical therapist will give you exercises to do everyday, which may feel too easy or even like a waste of time. Do not try to rush your recovery by overdoing or underperforming exercises. Do exactly as your physical therapist has told you, because they are trained to ensure an optimal recovery process.
If you or a loved one has suffered a rotator cuff tear or a sports-related injury in the Louisville, Kentucky-area, board certified sports medicine physician Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC can help. Orthopaedic Specialists is currently accepting new patients, and same day/telemedicine appointments are also available. For additional information or to schedule an appointment today, call 502-212-2663.