Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

Rotator Cuff Protocol

Rotator cuff protocol or rotator cuff strengthening protocol are terms often used after surgery for torn rotator cuff tendons.

You may hear surgeons and physiotherapists talking about rehabilitation protocols and the importance of them.

It is what is meant by protocol and rotator cuff protocol in particular that I want to focus on now. So, first things first, what does protocol actually mean? Protocol in the medical world simply means

"The plan for a course of medical treatment or for a scientific experiment" In other words your rotator cuff protocol is your plan for recovery from surgery for torn rotator cuff muscles or your treatment for rotator cuff injuries.

What is expected to happen when, what you should be capable of at a certain point in time and the activities you should avoid.

Rotator cuff protocol - buy into it its not cheap!

I have attached an example of a protocol under the heading rotator cuff strengthening protocol and as you will see it is fairly comprehensive.

This is just about the minimum that you should expect to see from your surgeon. I must emphasise the point that you should see this proposed plan and have an opportunity to discuss it before any potential operation.

Why this is so important is because one of the major reasons for poor outcomes from surgery for torn rotator cuff tendons is non adherence to a rotator cuff strengthening protocol.

You are going to have to live and work through your own protocol and it is vital for your recovery. Knowing what is likely to be involved in advance just makes the whole process easier.

If I can help you with only one thing I truly hope it is this. I messed up my rehab first time round, it cost me an operation, a lot of money and a number of painful, wasted years. I don't want anyone else having to go through that and that is why I am writing this.

Pain as we all know is subjective and therefore different for every individual. Similarly, money may not be that important to a millionaire; but at an average of $12,500.00 for surgery and rehab this is an expensive procedure. Get it right first time.

Another thing to consider very carefully is what if your medical team do not have a rotator cuff protocol for you to discuss. Or they are reluctant to spend time discussing it with you.

This is your pain and discomfort after all and you may well be paying for the treatment. If you are not being fully informed then the question you should be asking is "is this the team for me?"

Rotator cuff protocol - what to expect

Rotator Cuff ProtocolA specifically designed protocol developed for you is the least you can expect.

Now it may be that you are generally healthy, have a small rotator cuff tear and are undergoing a routine arthroscopic repair.

If this is the case then a more general, generic rotator cuff strengthening protocol is perfectly acceptable.

If you suffer with other medical problems however they must be factored in and necessary adjustments made.

Any rotator cuff protocol must be a complete and specific plan for recovery.

It must start at day one and run through to what is the final goal of a complete, successful pain free repair with fully restored strength and range of motion.

It should include an indicative timeline against which progress can be monitored. To this end goal setting is important e.g. full passive range of movement by week 6 post op.

It should include a detailed physical therapy plan. This should include proposals for what type and range of exercises should be attempted when.

Initially you should be shown how a physical therapist exercises rotator cuff muscles. These should be passive or isometric. Gradually the scope of exercises and the work the muscles are expected to do should be increased.

Exercise is only a part of the whole process however. Just as important are plans to minimise any potential risk. The tendons have to have time to heal and you should be given clear, concise instruction about what to avoid throughout the healing process.

Please follow the guidance you may be feeling good but please do not rush this it is just not worth it. You may get there a day or two quicker but you may well suffer a significant setback; it's just not worth the risk.

Finally any rotator cuff protocol should include an element of pain management. Any surgical treatment for rotator cuff tears is going to be painful for some time.

Getting pain medication right is an important part of the rehab process. Prescription drugs and ice treatment should be the minimum considered.

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