Each year, there are more than three million cases of rotator cuff tears –a tear in the tendons around the shoulder joint –in the United States alone. Because rotator cuff tears won’t heal on their own – repair surgery is necessary.
Most rotator cuff surgeries are outpatient procedures that are done arthroscopically through small incisions. Although you go home the same day as the operation, the overall recovery after this surgery is quite substantial and can take up to a year or more.
In the days immediately after rotator cuff repair surgery, your shoulder will be swollen, and you feel tired for several days. Also, you may notice discoloration of the skin near the incision. Each person recovers from rotator cuff surgery at a different pace. However, if you want to get better faster, there are several steps you should take to care for yourself at home.
12 Things to Expect Following Rotator Cuff Surgery
1. You are going to feel more tired than usual.
The good news is that getting enough sleep will help you recover from surgery. However, don’t lie flat or sleep on your side. Instead, raise your upper body using two or more pillows, or sleep in a chair that reclines.
2. You’ll need to walk every day.
Start with a short stroll, then increase the length of your walk each day. This will boost blood flow and help prevent post-surgical complications.
3. Your arm will be in a sling for several weeks.
Use the sling whenever walking or standing. You can loosen the sling when you sit or lie down but do not remove it, as it allows your elbow to straighten without moving your shoulder. Only remove the sling when doing prescribed exercises or showering. When the sling is finally removed, you’ll be able to perform activities that don’t involve lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying. It may take several months before you can lift overhead.
4. You won’t have complete use of your affected arm for a few months after surgery.
You will be able to use your affected arm when writing, eating, or writing, but you should move it only at your elbow or wrist.
5. It may take a few months before you can perform manual labor.
If you have a job that requires heavy use of your hands with intense hand/arm movements, you may be limited for a few months. For jobs that require mild movements, such as typing on a computer or assembling something, you may be fit to return to work or your normal routine in a few weeks.
6. It may be 72 hours after arthroscopic surgery before you can shower.
You’ll need to remove the sling and let your arm hang by your side. Do not raise it. You can learn and let your arm fall away from your body to wash under your armpit. The incisions can be washed with regular soap and water.
7. You won’t be able to drive for several weeks or until your sling is removed.
8. You will be able to eat your normal diet.
However, if your stomach is upset, settle for low-fat foods like broiled chicken, toast, plain rice, or yogurt. Also, drink plenty of fluids.
9. You may experience irregular bowel movements right after your procedure.
Constipation and digestive problems are pretty common after surgery. You can take a fiber supplement to avoid constipation and straining. If you become constipated after a couple of days, ask your doctor if it’s safe to take a mild laxative.
10. You should avoid restarting any medications, aspirin, or blood thinners until your doctor says it’s okay.
If antibiotics are prescribed, take them only as directed.
11. You may experience some swelling and pain following surgery.
If so, place a cold pack or ice wrapped in a thin cloth on your shoulder for up to 20 minutes at a time.
12. You can remove the bandage covering your incision within 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
If replacing the bandage, make sure it is clean and dry. If yours is an open incision, keep the affected area clean and dry. If there are strips of tape on the incision, leave them on for a week or until they fall off.
Rotator Cuff Repair Near You in Carmel, Indiana
Not all rotator cuff tears require surgery. In some cases, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy are all a patient needs. In other cases, surgical repair can relieve shoulder pain and help restore arm strength, depending on the extent of the tear. If you sustain a rotator cuff tear, Dr. Stephen Jacobsen and his team at Total Shoulder in Carmel, Indiana, can utilize the least invasive method to treat your injury.
There’s no reason to live with shoulder pain or restricted movement when you can get the medical care you need from a shoulder specialist near you. For more information, call Total Shoulder at (317) 705-4392 today or request an appointment now.