Follow these tips to ensure a speedy recovery from your rotator cuff repair surgery.
Work With Specialists – Who you work with matters. Choose the best professionals you can (based on your insurance coverage and geographic access). And by best I mean those professionals that are:
- Experts in rotator cuff repair surgery
- Experts in rotator cuff repair rehabilitation
Pre-Hab Your Shoulder – Before you have your surgery, it’s a great idea to have one or more sessions with a physical therapist who is a specialist in shoulders. This prehab helps to prepare you and your body before your surgery to ensure the best possible outcome after you have it.
Manage Inflammation – It’s very common for your doctor to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication after a rotator cuff repair surgery. If this is true for you be sure to take them as prescribed. These medicines help by blocking chemicals of inflammation from being made. Taking them as prescribed ensures that the inflammation in your body is as low as it can be at all times. And that reduces the pain as well.
Mitigate Pain – Do what you can to keep the pain as low as possible. This is important for more than just comfort. When you are in pain your body reacts by tightening up your entire shoulder. This is called muscle guarding. Prolonged muscle guarding can result in local muscular fatigue and tightness. And that means more pain and decreased function. So the best thing to do is to manage pain as effectively as you can. You can do this by taking prescribed pain medications, using ice as recommended and avoiding positions and activities that aggravate your shoulder.
Start Physical Therapy As Soon As Possible – Your doctor will generally recommend physical therapy at some set time after your surgery (for example they may say you can start 14 days after surgery). Once your doctor gives you the “okay” to begin physical therapy, you should do so. To be sure there’s no delay in your care (and in getting out of pain as fast as possible) schedule your physical therapy appointment before-hand. Check to be sure the physical therapist is in your insurance network (tip – most physical therapists can let you know – just give them a call and ask if they take your insurance).
Avoid Set-Backs – Progress in decreasing pain and increasing function (i.e. motion, position tolerance, sleeping, etc.) doesn’t happen in a straight line. Ups and downs are natural. To ensure your recovery happens as fast as possible you must do everything you can. And that means avoiding doing too much. Doing too much can result in a painful flare up. These flare ups can set your progress back by weeks.
Be Consistent – Just because your physical therapy sessions come to an end doesn’t mean your program (or progress) has to. My patients usually get released from care once they are at about 95% of maximum. That means they still have more progress to make and things to work on. So all of my patients get a home exercise program and the tools they need to do it. Your complete recovery depends on your involvement and commitment. A good physical therapist will get you on the path. It’s your job to cross the finish line.
About the Author: Nationally renowned health expert and passionate practicing Physical Therapist and business owner David Berman, MS, PT, COMT, CSCS has been helping Coloradans get out of pain quickly and naturally for over 13 years. He is an expert in the treatment and care of shoulder pain and injuries. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, he and his family now call Golden home. He is a voracious reader, a fitness fanatic and an avid fly-fisherman.Sharing is Caring!