The Orthopedic Blog

How Long Is Physical Therapy After Rotator Cuff Surgery

Posted on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

How Long Is Physical Therapy After Rotator Cuff Surgery 

Rotator cuff surgery is often necessary if a patient has severely injured his shoulder. A patient is advised to undergo rehabilitation as soon as surgery is over. Below is information about the rotator cuff and he rehabilitation involved. rotator cuff

Rotator Cuff Repair is Important

The rotator cuff is constructed of four muscles – the subscapularis, teres minor, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus. A patient’s rehabilitation will vary based on which shoulder muscle is being restored. It is possible for individuals to tear more than one muscle. There are those who have a labral tear or a bicep tendon tear all at the same time. People can also attain little tears, which are known as partial thickness tears, or full thickness tears (big tears).

A large number of shoulder surgeons have dissimilar timelines for rehabilitation. Timelines typically depend largely on the patients’ preferences and surgical methods. This is something that patients should discuss with their surgeons before rotator cuff surgery to help them guide their expectations.

General Guideline for Surgery Preparation and Rehabilitation

The following is a general guideline for surgery preparation and physical therapy. Keep in mind that the guideline/timeline differs from patient to patient:

0 to 6 weeks

Most patients begin their rehabilitation a few weeks after rotator cuff surgery. In the early stage, the shoulder will be relatively sore, thus it is best to keep up with all the pain medicine as prescribed by the patient’s surgeon. Large numbers of patients have trouble finding a relaxed sleeping position in the beginning, but sleeping with lots of pillows propped up underneath the shoulder or in a recliner helps a lot.

Most rotator cuff patients sleep in their arm sling for at least a couple of weeks. Depending on the surgeon’s protocol, patients will be restricted from driving, particularly if they drive a standard-transmission vehicle. For rehabilitation, it is advisable that patients arrange alternate transportation back and forth from the therapy center and home.

4 to 12 weeks

Patients normally begin their active range of motion exercise regime from four to six weeks after rotator cuff surgery. Exercises include lifting weight of their arm against gravity. However, no extra weight is needed. Between the seventh and eighth week, patients will start their strengthening exercises utilizing resistant bands or weights.

12 weeks and beyond

Patients who are athletically inclined are able to return to their sports and recreational activities within four to six months after surgery. Patients who need repairs that are more intricate, or who have high athletic career expectations may take a lot longer to recuperate.

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Topics: rotator cuff surgery