Rotator cuff tears are a common shoulder issue, sometimes requiring surgery to fix them. While a full recovery can take several months after surgery, patients usually begin physical therapy within four to six weeks. This helps to build up strength in the shoulder, while also preventing the joint from stiffening up.
Most patients regain full strength and function within four to six months. However, actual recovery time will depend upon the severity of the tear and the treatment used to correct it. Your surgeon will provide a recovery timeline, alongside advice you can follow to speed it up.
Discover more about rotator cuff tears and what to expect from the recovery process below including what is the rotator cuff tear recovery time?
What to expect from rotator cuff tear recovery
If you have surgery for a rotator cuff tear, the procedure will either be carried out as a day case which means you return home the same day as surgery or with one overnight stay in hospital. Your arm will be put into a sling to keep it immobilised. Surgery is normally performed under a general anaesthetic augmented with regional/local anaesthetic so your arm will feel numb immediately after surgery. Once the local anaesthetic wears off, you will experience some pain and then discomfort for at least a few days, and likely a few weeks. Pain relief medication can be prescribed to help manage the level of pain while the shoulder heals.
Patients are advised to place ice on the shoulder as an additional pain relief measure. This will also help to control any swelling that may occur. Sleeping may be difficult so you might want to change to lying in a semi-upright position.
Rotator cuff repair is usually performed as an arthroscopic procedure which is a type of keyhole surgery. The incisions will be very small and heal within just a couple of weeks. If the procedure is performed as open surgery, the stitches will either be dissolvable or removed at two weeks.
After a few weeks you’ll be able to reduce the amount of time that you need to wear the sling and you’ll be able to start light physiotherapy. At your check-up with your London shoulder specialist Mr Andy Richards, they will be able to advise when you can begin strengthening exercises.
Rotator cuff tear treatments
Your recovery will be determined by a variety of factors such as the severity of the tear, and whether any complications arose during or after treatment. There are a variety of treatment options available and not all of them include surgery.
If the rotator cuff tear is minor, you may require physical therapy and pain relief medication. This alone could help you make a speedy recovery.
To find out what to expect from your rotator cuff tear recovery, book a consultation with one of Mr Andy Richards or one of our other shoulder specialists today.