How to Recover From Rotator Cuff Repair & Get Back to Living an Active Life

A rotator cuff injury — and repair surgery — is no walk in the park. It’s a painful condition, and healing after surgery takes time, which can be frustrating for many athletes who just want to get back to being active again. Here’s what you can expect after rotator cuff repair, how to have an uneventful healing period, and what to do to get back to your normal activities again.

Adjust your expectations

It can take between four to six months to fully recover after a rotator cuff repair. Unlike many other orthopedic surgeries, which take mere weeks to heal, rotator cuff repairs take much longer. Adjust your expectations and allow yourself time to heal. Assuming that you’ll have a quick recovery can lead to frustration and anxiety. Take it slow and let your body tell you when it’s ready.

Stay committed to physical therapy

You’ll most likely need an extensive amount of physical therapy after rotator cuff repair to build your strength and stamina back. Physical therapy can be uncomfortable, and a lot of it must be done at home as recommended by the therapist. It’s hard work, but it’s important you stay committed to it. If you don’t, it may take even longer to move through the healing process.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations and restrictions

Your doctor will likely give you a list of restrictions to avoid injuring yourself right after your repair. Your physician may want you to wear a sling or shoulder immobilizer for a period of time right after the surgery — usually around four to six weeks. It can be cumbersome and limit what you can do, but it’s important to keep the area from experiencing strain fresh out of a rotator cuff repair procedure.

Your doctor will also give you instructions on movements to avoid, such as lifting, raising your arm, reaching behind your back, or moving your arm to the side. Even if you start to feel better, avoid these movements until you get confirmation from your physician that you can resume them. You may set yourself back if you move your shoulder in ways that stress your rotator cuff too soon after the repair.

You should also avoid resuming activities, especially sports, until your doctor confirms that you are released from care and able to be active as normal. Don’t be shy about asking your physician exactly what you can do. Let them know what sports or activities you enjoy and ask when you can return to each one. You may be able to resume some sports or activities before others.

Be aware of signs of complications

As with any surgical procedure, rotator cuff repair is not exempt from complications. Complications are rare, but it’s always wise to know what complications to watch for and to get immediate care if you notice a problem.

Let your physician know if you experience a fever over 101 degrees soon after your surgery, severe pain that does not lessen with prescribed pain medication, extreme redness, or white or yellow drainage from the incision site. You should also let your doctor know if you have tingling, numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in your arm or hands on the side you had your surgery on.

Rotator cuff injury? Find out if you need a repair

Not all rotator cuff injuries are tears, and if you think you’ve injured your rotator cuff, you need an experienced surgeon to perform diagnostic tests to determine if you need a rotator cuff repair. Dr. Arash A. Dini performs shoulder arthroscopy, which can be used to both diagnose and treat a rotator cuff tear or injury.

Contact Dr. Dini today to learn more about rotator cuff repair by calling (323) 525-0101 (Los Angeles location); or (818) 784-1020 (Encino location). Or, you can fill out a quick online form to request an appointment. We’re available now to help you get the treatment you need to recover and get back to doing what you love.


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