Get answers to your Shoulder and Elbow questions.
Recovery can take anywhere from 3 - 6 months, depending on the size of the tear and other factors. You may have to wear a sling for 4 - 6 weeks after surgery. Pain is usually managed with medications.
You will be wearing a sling when you leave the hospital. Some patients also wear a shoulder immobilizer. This keeps your shoulder from moving. How long you wear the sling or immobilizer will depend on the type of surgery you had.
Physical therapy may help you to regain the motion and strength of your shoulder. The length of therapy will depend on the repair that was performed.
Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff is usually very successful at relieving pain in the shoulder. The procedure may not always return strength to the shoulder. Rotator cuff repair can require a long recovery period, especially if the tear was large.
When you can return to work or play sports will depend on the surgery that was performed, but it will usually take several months to resume your regular activities.
Some rotator cuff tears may not fully heal. Stiffness, weakness, and chronic pain may still be present.
These poorer results are more likely when the following are present:
Elkousy HA, Edwards TB. Shoulder: Development of skills for shoulder surgery. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 17, section Q.
Miller RH II, Dlabach JA. Shoulder and elbow injuries. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 44.
Seida JC, LeBlanc C, Schouten JR, Mousavi SS, Hartling L, Vandermeer B, Tjosvold L, Sheps DM. Systematic review: nonoperative and operative treatments for rotator cuff tears. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Aug 17;153(4):246-55.
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