5 Tips to Speed Recovery From Rotator Cuff Surgery

Your shoulder is a complex joint that takes several months to heal from surgery. You can’t rush healing, but you can apply specific strategies to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. Follow the guidelines from the team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, especially these tips, to avoid prolonging recovery — and maybe even speed it up a bit.

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You’ll have a sling or immobilizer following surgery. It may be an inconvenience to wear, but don’t treat it as an optional accessory. Even when you start to feel better, wear the sling as long as doctors recommend. They’ll ease you out of it — have you wear it for shorter durations — before you take it off permanently.

Be a participant

Following surgery, you’ll be scheduled to see a physical therapist, who will give you exercises to do at home — as well as in the office. Be an active participant and faithfully carry out all of these exercises, even the ones that seem simple or passive.

They help you develop stability, range of motion, and functional movement by building up and stretching the targeted muscles and freeing up connective tissue. Physical therapy is also tailored to you and your movement goals — whether that’s getting back into a sport or just functioning on a daily basis.

Pay attention to your moves

Certain movements aren’t conducive to healing from rotator cuff surgery. These include lifting heavy objects, putting weight on your shoulders, reaching behind your body, and raising your arm overhead. Moving your arm laterally — out to the side — can also interfere with healing.

It may be a challenge to avoid these actions, but wearing your sling and asking others to do these tasks for you speeds your healing. If you avoid them for the short-term, you can regain function in the long-term.

Sleep smart

In addition to getting enough sleep — 7-9 hours per night — pay attention to how you sleep. Lying flat on your back or on the side of the affected shoulder can delay healing and cause pain. Instead, prop yourself up with pillows as you sleep. Ask the team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists for recommendations on the best positioning.

Stay the course

As you begin to feel better, it’s tempting to start challenging your shoulder with sports play or gym exercises. Don’t “test” your arm until your therapists and doctors give you the go-ahead. Doing too much too soon is likely going to cause re-injury and set your recovery back.

Healing may take several months, and you may grow frustrated during this time. But stay on track and gradually add in movements as directed. The doctors will evaluate when you’ve regained full muscle strength and can return to physical activity.

Remember, rotator cuff surgery is but the first step in repairing the joint. How you treat your shoulder in the weeks and months afterward also impacts the surgery’s success. Faithfully follow the protocol provided by the team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists to heal as quickly as possible.

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