Often times, post-surgical expectations regarding restrictions, precautions and guidelines are not given or were briefly reviewed prior to or post-surgery. The purpose of this blog post is to set appropriate expectations, which will help ease some of the fears associated with surgery and rehabilitation, as well as improve your understanding of what to expect after your rotator cuff repair surgery. If you are interested in reading our full protocol click HERE; this protocol serves as a guideline and is not intended to be utilized as a "one size fits all" template. If you haven’t had surgery and are wondering if surgery is right for you, we have written a blog on non-operative management of rotator cuff tears, click HERE.
Randelli (2012) literature review found the surgical operation to be very safe and is considered a low risk procedure. The most common post-operative complication they found is failure of the repair after surgery. Some research suggests up to a 50% failure rate of the rotator cuff repair after surgery. This might raise the question, WHY?
There are many contributors to why a rotator cuff repair can fail. This includes, but is not limited to, lower bone mineral density, older age, female, larger tear size, fatty infiltration, diabetes mellitus, and smoking. Other factors that can contribute to a failed repair include progressing shoulder movements too slow or too quickly, accelerated exercise prescription, and poor patient compliance of precautions and restrictions (such as not wearing your sling when recommended). The review of these prognostic factors, meaning predictability of outcomes, is not to increase fear nor anxiety, but to help improve your understanding of all the considerations that help us provide the best outcome possible. The above factors can fall into various categories, this includes non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors, as well as factors that are in your control and factors that are in your physical therapist’s control. Non-Modifiable Risk Factors - age, sex, tear size, fatty infiltration, type I diabetes
Modifiable Risk Factors - smoking
In Your Control - following recommended precautions and restrictions
Things for you to consider – You will be wearing your sling for roughly 6 weeks. On your first physical therapy visit you will learn what you can and cannot do, as well as how to modify dressing and other self-care activities. You will have a weight restriction up until 4 months. Expected return to prior level of function can take anywhere between 5-6 months depending on your activity level and goals.
In the Physical Therapist’s Control - range of motion progressions, exercise prescription and return to activity guidance.
Things to consider - Rotator cuff repair protocols should be based on the best available research as well as the Physical Therapist’s and Surgeon’s recommendations. If you are interested, here is a breakdown of our protocol, again, this serves as a guideline and not a template. Click HERE.
Below you will find a breakdown of our recommended guidelines for each tear size.
If you would like to talk to one of our licensed physical therapist, please click HERE, we offer FREE phone consults. We can answer any concerns or questions you may have. If you prefer to contact us directly, please click HERE for our clinic information.
Written by: Dakota Ezell, PT, DPT
Disclaimer: All information on this website is intended for instruction and informational purposes only. The authors are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied on this website.
1) Randelli P, Spennacchio P, Ragone V, Arrigoni P, Casella A, Cabitza P. Complications associated with arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: a literature review. Musculoskelet Surg. 2012;96(1):9-16. doi:10.1007/s12306-011-0175-y
Nick was so attentive to my needs and he structured his schedule to fit mine. My therapy was focused on my strengths and weaknesses; therefore, my recovery time was much shorter than expected. I highly recommend Nevada Physical Therapy for any lingering pain you may be experiencing.Read More Reviews
I cannot say enough positive things about this place. Came in with an ACL injury. I spent a few weeks working with jonathan. His evidence-based approach and motivational ability was really really inspiring. He helped me get back to normal and then some!Read More Reviews
DAKOTA EZELL is at the top of MY list as a highly skilled, intuitive, present professional who values and treats me as a whole person, not just someone to fill a time slotRead More Reviews
The best Physical Therapy place I have ever visited. Rare to see an emphasis on finding the best method to improve injury instead of giving everyone the same plan. But the best part about this place is it's approach to well being during and after PT.Read More Reviews
I was referred to Brian Fearnley by someone with significant credibility. I consider working with Brian a huge stroke of luck. This specific 'PT' is increasing my recovery potential a hundred fold. Brian knows his stuff. He is well versed in PT. He has athletic history at UNR and is active in our local community. He is clearly in this profession to help people recover and get under their own power.Read More Reviews
After two plus years of hip pain, three other physical therapists, quarterly injections and no relief, Crista made the pain go away! If I could give her and this practice 10 stars I'd do it!Read More Reviews
As a professional athlete, injuries can make or break a career. Luckily, in my case, I had Nevada Physical Therapy on my side. Not only did they physically help me recover from a meniscus surgery, but they provided the best emotional support you could ask for in such a difficult time.Read More Reviews
Phenomenal. I had some brutal injuries that resulted in four surgeries and seriously disrupted my life. There can be no doubt that the quality of life I enjoy today was a direct result of working with Nevada Physical Therapy.Read More Reviews
I attended Nevada Physical Therapy for my post surgery physical therapy and have nothing but great things to say. For any of you reading this, this place is by far the best physical therapy place I have ever attended with exceptional staff. I had the pleasure to work with Dakota who is extremely knowledgeable, patient and would go above and beyond to make sure you're taken care of.Read More Reviews