Returning to work after rotator cuff repair

Returning to Work and Play After Rotator Cuff Repair

After undergoing a rotator cuff repair, it is important to give the body plenty of time to heal.

Returning to work and sporting or leisure activities should only be considered once the body has fully repaired. The length of time this will take depends upon multiple factors. A recent study has also revealed some patients do not return to their previous work levels.

Here, you will discover everything you need to know about returning to work and play after rotator cuff repair.

Will you be able to return to previous work levels?

The majority of patients who undergo a rotator cuff repair go on to return to previous work levels within six months to a year. However, a recent study has estimated that over 35% of workers who experience a rotator cuff tear, might never return to previous work levels after surgery.

A systematic review was carried out by the Rush University Medical Center in the USA to look into return to work outcomes. They followed 1,224 rotator cuff repair patients with a mean age of 52.2. The researchers discovered that 62.3% of patients were able to return to previous levels of work. The average time it took to fully recover was 8.15 months. A total of 37.7% of patients didn’t return to previous work levels.

Despite some not being able to return to previous work levels, all patients experienced significant improvement in pain reduction and final outcome. There were also no links discovered between arthroscopic and open procedures.

Those who were returning to light work also had the highest likelihood of returning to previous levels. An impressive 97% were able to fully return to what is considered light work.

How quickly can I return to sport after rotator cuff repair?

Those looking to return to sport after rotator cuff surgery can expect the same recovery time as getting back to work. It takes an average of eight months to recover from the procedure, though this will vary between patients.

Numerous studies have shown that the majority of recreational athletes manage to get back to the same level of play as before the surgery. However, only half of professional athletes will regain the same level of play.

Factors that impact recovery after rotator cuff repair

Whether or not you will be able to return to previous work and play levels after rotator cuff repair surgery, depends upon numerous factors. The size of the tear, the sport you play, and your overall fitness will each play a key role in your recovery.

There is also evidence to suggest that patient resilience can play a part in recovery. A study published in the Shoulder & Elbow journal sought to assess the connection between the patient’s ‘resilience’ pre-procedure and post-operative shoulder pain and function and also wider physical and mental health. The study found that resilience was more of an indicator of mental and physical health than of early recovery from shoulder surgery.

So, the majority of patients who undergo rotator cuff repair surgery do manage to return to the same level of work and play. However, your London shoulder surgeon will give you a better idea of whether or not you will be able to get back to work and sport during your consultation.