Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I'm in the early weeks of recovery from surgery for a rotator cuff tear. Just how much activity can the repair take? I'd like to know what are the limits.

Answer:

Each surgical repair is different based on a few factors. First is the size of the tear and the method used to repair it. Second is the timing. You mentioned being in the early weeks of recovery. The amount of load the repair can handle increases as the tissue heals. In the first six weeks the load limits are much less than after six to eight weeks.

For example the load on the repair is much less with forward flexion of the arm compared to other shoulder movements. Passive motion (someone else moves the arm) versus active movement (you move the arm) has different load limits.

Your surgeon should have given you some idea of the limits both in terms of motion and lifting. Sometimes patients don't realize the paperwork they take home with them has this information in it. Read everything given to you. Contact your surgeon directly if you don't find what you are looking for.

Augustus D. Mazzocca, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Single-Row Versus Double-Row Suture Anchor Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2005. Vol. 33. No. 12. Pp. 1861-1868.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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