Recovering after a rotator cuff surgery is a long process. During the first several days after the procedure, your shoulder will likely be swollen and appear discolored. Although postoperative pain and swelling will gradually subside, full recovery can take up to half a year, and you may need to wear a sling for over a month.
To help you along the process, here is a quick guide on what to do as you recover from rotator cuff surgery.
Get Enough Rest
You will need to get a lot of rest after surgery. It would be best if you avoided stress because this may hamper the healing process. Getting enough rest will speed up your recovery.
When sleeping, do not lie on the impacted shoulder. You can prevent this by propping a pillow under your affected arm to keep it elevated and supported. You may also sleep on a reclining chair.
Take Medications as Prescribed
Postoperative pain is inevitable after any surgical procedure. Your surgeon may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe stronger medications, if necessary.
Even if your pain is mild and can be treated with over-the-counter drugs, seeking the advice of your healthcare provider is vital. Some medications may not be compatible with your condition and may cause complications such as bleeding.
Manage Your Sling
You may need to use a sling for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. It ensures your shoulder and arm stay in place by restricting movement. Your provider will give you advice on how to navigate your sling to prevent any complications.
Driving is not advisable without discussing it with your doctor. Running, biking, or working out is also not recommended. It is okay to lift light objects but only with the approval of your doctor.
Do not remove the sling even if you’re lying or sitting down. Instead, you may loosen it to allow for airflow. The sling will also help straighten your shoulder. The only time you can remove your sling is when you’re showering or performing prescribed exercises. Consult your doctor about the right time to remove your sling and how to do it correctly.
Apply Cold Compress
Applying cold therapy to your affected shoulder is one of the best ways to reduce pain and inflammation. If you do not have a cold pack at home, you may use a bag of frozen vegetables. Make sure to wrap a light cloth around it and avoid direct contact with your skin. Once you have your cold pack wrapped with a cloth, you may place it on your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this process every 2 to 3 hours on the first three days after the procedure.
Undergo Physical Therapy
After surgery, your doctor may advise you to undergo physical therapy. Your doctor and therapist will work together to create an exercise program to help with your recovery. They will consider your strengths and limitations, gradually adjusting your therapy plan as your condition improves. Physical therapy is vital for you to regain control of your shoulder by improving your mobility, flexibility, and strength.
Avoid Unnecessary Stress
When using your arm during eating, drinking, or writing, make sure only to move your wrist or elbow. Do not engage in strenuous activities such as pulling, lifting, pushing, and carrying. Depending on the severity of your condition and the extent of repair, your doctor may not require you to prevent overhead movements for some time.
Your job may be affected by your surgery. If you have a desk job, you may be able to return to work in about 2 weeks. If your job entails active labor that requires extensive use of your arms, your doctor may ask you to refrain from working for at least 3 months. In case your work involves heavy manual labor, such as using heavy tools or lifting your arms, you may need more time off work.
Your Recovery Partner in Austin, Texas
Recovering from rotator cuff surgery can take time. You may have to deal with pain and discomfort and significant lifestyle changes. However, you don’t have to face this process alone. At All-Star Orthopedics, we are ready to be your recovery partner.
We offer comprehensive care for individuals with various orthopedic conditions including rotator cuff injuries. Our very own Dr. Carolyn M. Hyde along with our medical team and staff will be your partner in this journey. To book an appointment with us, you may call (512) 346-4933 or request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!