Your rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint. It helps to keep the humerus (upper arm bone) in place. You probably don’t even realise how much you use these muscles. Reaching forward to open or close a door? Having a nice, post meal stretch? Hanging up your coat after a long day at work? These are all instances where we rely on our shoulder joint. So when might you need rotator cuff surgery? If you get a tear in your rotator cuff for any reason, then you may need to have it repaired. Let’s get straight to the do and don’ts after rotator cuff surgery.
- Do not put weight through your arm or lift anything for six weeks. This means taking extra care not to use your arm to support you getting up from a chair.
- Do not try to reach above or behind you. It is important to keep your arm (mainly your upper arm) close to your side at all times post op.
- Do not lie on the operated side for a minimum of six weeks. Most people find an upright position, with pillows propped around them, the most comfortable for sleeping.
- Do not get your bandage wet. Keep it clean and dry. If you have had arthroscopic surgery, you may be able to remove the bandage twenty-four hours’ post-surgery but keep the dressing for two weeks until you see your surgeon.
- Do not take anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen for the first twelve weeks. It could slow down tendon healing. Your surgeon will prescribe appropriate pain relief. There will also be some handy tips for pain relief in the ‘do’ section.
- Do not soldier on. If you experience severe pain, numbness or tingling in your hand, contact your doctor immediately. They will be able to advise you of the next steps to take.
- Do not drive until it is safe to do so. It is not safe to drive whilst wearing a sling.
- Do keep your arm in the sling except when doing rehabilitation exercises.
- Do get plenty of rest to help aid recovery. Ask for and accept help with your daily activities to ensure that you are able to rest. This will help you in the long term!
- Do use ice packs for pain relief. Whenever you can, use ice packs covered in thin material for five to ten minutes at a time. This can help to reduce any swelling.
- Do perform rehabilitative exercises four times a day. Your physiotherapist will advise you further. It is likely that you will attend a clinic to assess your range of motion and continue your treatment plan.
- Do try to keep in good spirits. It can be easy to feel demotivated during recovery, try to take care of yourself as your body takes care of you and heals. That Netflix show you have been meaning to watch? Now is the time for it.
Many factors can influence recovery time. It is recommended that the above tips are used as a guide, but always check with your doctor for a more specific plan.
Find out more about our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Iossifidis who specialises in shoulder surgery and authored this blog.