Rotator Cuff Repair – FAQ

By JOI Shoulder Surgeons

Rotator Cuff Repair

When should I see a physician for a rotator cuff tear?

If you have a known injury to the shoulder or have had chronic shoulder and arm pain, it is best to consult with your orthopedic physician. He or she can make a diagnosis and get you set up with the best treatment options for your case. Some physicians may recommend further imagining studies prior to suggesting any treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment for rotator cuff tears may help prevent range of motion and strength loss. Physical therapy may be an option or the physician may recommend surgery to repair the tear. If you are concerned that you may have a rotator cuff tear, one of our JOI Physicians can help get you on the path to recovery.

Can a rotator cuff repair be done arthroscopically?

This depends on the preference of your surgeon and the extensive nature of your repair. A Rotator Cuff Repair can be done three ways: open repair, mini-open repair, and arthroscopically. Make sure to discuss the most appropriate method for your situation with your Physician.

Will I have to stay overnight due to a rotator cuff repair?

In almost all situations, rotator cuff repair is an outpatient procedure, in which you will go home following your surgery.

Will I have to go to Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy?

For the majority of cases the answer is yes. Typically, therapy will begin within a couple days to a couple weeks following surgery, depending on your physician’s preference for your case. Therapy plays a vital role in getting you back to your daily activities. A guided, skilled therapy program utilizing our patient specific rehabilitation protocols will help you safely restore your range of motion and shoulder strength.

Will I need to wear a sling?

This depends on the preference of your physician and the extent of your repair. But yes, most patients will wear a sling following surgery for some period of time.   Typical sling wear can range from 4-12 weeks depending on the size and extent of your surgical repair.

If you would like to learn more on how to wear your sling, go to: https://www.joionline.net/trending/content/proper-sling-use

How long before I can take a shower following surgery?

This depends on preferences of your physician. You should not soak the arm in a bath tub or pool until allowed by the physician. As long as stitches and staples remain, you should use extreme caution with getting the area wet.

Which position is best for sleeping?

Most patients find sleeping following rotator cuff surgery to be very challenging and frustrating. Lying down in a reclined position with the arm in the sling and a pillow supporting the back of the elbow is the most preferred sleeping position. A recliner would be the most beneficial, as sleeping flat in a bed can be very uncomfortable.

How long will it be before I can use my arm normally again?

This depends on the extent of the repair and the preference of your physician. Most patients can look at an average of 4 to 6 months before they are completely able to functionally move and use their arm.


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