Surgical repair of Rotator cuff injury is often chosen after failed conservative management of a rotator cuff tear. It is usually done arthroscopically. Healing time after the surgery varies and is dependent on the extent of tear/ repair, quality of tissue etc. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role to get your shoulder better after the rotator cuff repair.
Physiotherapy treatment can begin early after the surgery. You will be provided with a written Physiotherapy protocol from your surgeon which entails different phases of Physio exercise recommendations. During the initial phases, your physiotherapist will focus on a lot of education; on posture, positioning, proper use of sling, strategies to manage pain and swelling. You will be educated on precautions and warning signs. Often times, in the first phase of rehab(0-6 weeks) it is recommended that you keep your shoulder immobile. After some time, as per your surgeon’s protocol, your Physiotherapist will start passive range of motion exercises. You may be given some pendulum exercises and passive range of motion exercises for home in the later part of the first phase. Your physiotherapist’s advice and feedback on how to conduct your daily activities with your arm being totally immobile is very valuable in this phase. There are Physiotherapy modalities that can help relieve pain and swelling along with the hands on manual therapy care you receive.
Phase 2 (6-12) weeks is very important in improving your range of motion, initiating Active Range of motion and often time beginning of strengthening exercises. Active ROM can begin somewhere between 6-10 depending on your surgeon’s recommendations. Your physiotherapist will teach you how to safely do these exercises at home. Manual/ hands on therapy will help regain normal shoulder joint mobility. Often times, inflammation tends to settle in this phase and your tolerance to activities of daily living improves progressively. Isometric strengthening exercises followed by isotonic exercises( with therabands/ tubes) could begin in the later part of this phase. You may not require as much pain relieving modalities in this phase.
Phase 3( 12 -16 weeks) focusses on normalizing your joint mobility, achieving full range of motion, maintaining and improving strength of Rotator cuff muscles, improving propriocetion. Your physiotherapist will aim towards cutting down on frequency of visits and giving you tools and strategies to continue to progress with a good home program. Your Physio may continue to monitor your progress infrequently to make sure you are able to achieve your goals and are able to follow through on your rehab program. You may need to see your physiotherapist longer if you develop stiffness, which is common in diabetics or in people who have had stiff/ frozen shoulder before surgery.
You may not return to contact spirts for 6-12 months post surgery. Return to work and activities will be determined by the nature of your job, availability of modified duties/ hours and the extent of the surgery and your healing process.
You May have heard from many people who had Rotator cuff surgery, that it takes good year or so for your shoulder to feel normal. But for many of you l, your shoulder will feel better a lot faster.
I am registered Physiotherapist with passion and over 15 years of experience in treating shoulders and orthopaedic conditions. I have gained valuable knowledge and skills working closely with many prestigious shoulder surgeons. I will be delighted to help you in your rehab journey. Please give me a call today!