Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery


Rotator cuff surgery recovery is not achieved overnight. You need time to heal and this can typically take around six months following your rotator cuff tear surgery.

What I want to talk about in this section is a basic timeline. What you can expect to happen during rotator cuff surgery recovery and when; particularly in relation to rotator cuff tear rehabilitation.

There is a basic sequence of events after rotator cuff surgery. Please remember everyone is different you may progress faster or slower, it doesn't matter, just making progress is the key point.

Everyone can directly influence their surgery recovery. Follow the advice, follow the rotator cuff tear rehabilitation program and follow that up with rotator cuff strengthening and your done. Keep it up long term and your rotator cuff will be stronger than ever before. So just exactly what can you expect?

Please remember this is a guide only, everyone is different. It is not a race, recovering in your own time and getting stronger is all that matters.

Immediately after rotator cuff surgery

Surgery recovery starts immediately after rotator cuff surgery. Your arm will be placed into a sling. Generally this will be a sling that holds the arm slightly away from the side.

This known as an abduction sling and is used after most rotator cuff tear surgery. This particular type of sling is used as it holds the tendons in a more relaxed position.

rotator cuff surgery recovery Immediately after rotator cuff surgery you will spend some time in recovery.

Initial recovery is often an hour or two but seldom much longer than that.

It is becoming more uncommon for an overnight hospital stay to be necessary; most people are discharged the same day.

You will generally only remain at the hospital until your pain is adequately controlled.

The first few days after rotator cuff surgery

The first few days after rotator cuff surgery is dedicated to controlling your pain and beginning rotator cuff tear rehabilitation.

You will be prescribed a variety of pain relief medications and anti inflammatory drugs. You may be advised to try alternating pain medication and anti inflammatory drugs; this definitely worked for me.

One of the most important and yet most often overlooked remedies is also the most natural - ice. Frequent use of ice to treat the shoulder will help with pain relief, inflammation and ultimately reduce your rotator cuff surgery recovery.

Try to sleep, it is uncomfortable, but rest is vital. Try to sleep in a semi upright position using pillows or if you have one a recliner of some sort - I used a garden sun lounger! It is no guarantee of a good nights sleep but it will probably give you the best chance.

You may need a sleeping pill of some kind, don't worry if you do, the sleep is the important thing.

Passive Motion

The first six weeks of rotator cuff tear rehabilitation consist typically of passive motion only exercises. Passive motion is movement that does not involve the rotator cuff muscles doing any work. This allows for the shoulder to move without placing any stress on the repair.

Your therapist or doctor will move your shoulder for you. You should also be instructed in a range of exercises you can do to move your own shoulder. These movements are designed to move the shoulder without actually contracting the rotator cuff muscles.

Active motion

Active motion is started once there is sufficient healing of the tendons. The tendons should be sufficiently healed to allow them to start moving the arm. The critical thing at this stage is that no resistance is applied. In other words you can move your own arm but you can not do anything above that.

This is a key phase in your rotator cuff surgery recovery. This phase may last up to 12 weeks following your rotator cuff tear surgery. The period of rotator cuff strengthening that follows is dependant upon the actions taken here. Proper rotator cuff tear rehabilitation can only be safely achieved by not pushing too hard too soon.

Rotator cuff strengthening

Rotator cuff surgery recovery completed by a period of rotator cuff strengthening. The rotator cuff strengthening phase of recovery is the most important. Because of the initial injury, the rotator cuff tear surgery, and the early phases of recovery, the muscles of the rotator cuff have become weak.

Once the repair has healed sufficiently, it is important to begin rotator cuff strengthening. Ultimately, successful rotator cuff surgery recovery is only achieved once you are pain free and the muscles regain their former strength.

It is not necessary to be lifting heavy weights; a program of rotator cuff tear rehabilitation utilising resistance bands and small weights is all that is required.

Throughout this period of rotator cuff surgery recovery you should aim to complete the required exercises between 3 and 5 times per day. Each exercise should be repeated a number of times or repetitions - reps.

This process will result in two major benefits; it will prevent the formation of scar tissue and reduce stiffness. Both are vital in ensuring your rotator cuff surgery recovery is as quick and painless as possible.


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