I'm going to have arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. I really need full motion to do my job. How long will it take to get it back?
Right after surgery, you'll probably be wearing a sling. This is kept on for a week to ten days according to your comfort level. You will be allowed to move your shoulder in two directions so long as it doesn't hurt. The first is shoulder flexion (forward) and the second is outward rotation (elbow is held next to the body, hand moves away from the body).
By the end of the month, you may be given exercises using as much motion in all directions as pain will allow. Your full motion should be returned by 12 weeks. A recent study showed that patients who have a rotator cuff repair using only arthroscopic surgery regain motion faster. Patients who have an open incision get back their full motion, but it takes longer.
Erik L. Severud, MD, et al. All-Arthroscopic Versus Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair: A Long-Term Retrospective Outcome Comparison. In Arthroscopy. March 2003. Vol. 19. No. 3. Pp. 234-238.
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