Each of your shoulders has a large group of muscles and soft tissue known as the rotator cuff. It provides much stability to your shoulder joint and powers your arm for a wide range of motion. When one of the tendons in the rotator cuff is torn in an injury, the use of your entire arm may be limited.
The pain and limited use of your arm make it difficult to accomplish daily tasks or get through your job or enjoy sports. In the cases where a rotator cuff tear is minor, you may be able to recover with a little rest and physical rehabilitation. However, in many cases where the tear is more severe, you may need surgical intervention.
What is rotator cuff surgery?
The goal of rotator cuff surgery is to reattach the tendon to the bone. There are different approaches to this procedure depending on the severity and location of the tear. In some cases, surgeons can use minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques that use small incisions. In more severe cases, they may need to make a larger incision to access the operation area.
Another option is a mini-open repair, which is sort of a combination of the other two procedures. This procedure makes use of the arthroscope for removing damaged tissue but also makes use of a 2- or 3-inch incision to access the torn tendon for repair.
How long is recovery from rotator cuff surgery?
The amount of time it takes to recover from a torn rotator cuff varies depending on the severity of the tear, the type of operation you had, and personal factors like age, weight, and medical history.
Typically, you need to wear a sling for up to four weeks after the surgery. This sling can be removed while resting or doing physical therapy exercises. It’s important to exercise the shoulder under the guidance of a professional. Exercising helps rebuild the strength and flexibility of your muscles to provide stability to the shoulder, help prevent the buildup of scar tissue, and help reduce pain while recovering. During these first four weeks, it is not safe for you to drive and your shoulder will not be in shape for physical labor.
After the initial four to six weeks, you may not need the sling anymore and you may be able to return to driving. You’ll still need a few more months of physical therapy and rest to reach full recovery. After about four to six months, your shoulder should feel fully recovered.
So, when can I return to work after rotator cuff surgery?
The answer depends on the nature of your work and whether you have access to transportation. During the initial weeks of recovery, it’s not safe for you to drive, so you’ll need to arrange other means of transportation. Furthermore, you won’t be able to lift heavy objects with your shoulders for the first two or three months of recovery, so you and your employer may need to arrange some other kind of tasks you can accomplish while your shoulder recovers.
Visit iRISE Spine & Joint Institute for rotator cuff surgery
Is a torn rotator cuff causing pain and stiffness in your shoulder that affects your entire arm? You may be a good candidate for rotator cuff surgery. Contact our team today for more information about rotator cuff surgery or to schedule an initial appointment.