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Congratulations on taking the crucial step toward your rotator cuff recovery journey after surgery. The following guidelines have been prepared to ensure your healing process is as smooth and effective as possible.

Over the next few weeks, your focus will be on dedicated care and adherence to specific instructions outlined for the initial phase of your recuperation. From the crucial use of the sling and the necessity of regular movement exercises to managing pain and monitoring your body’s response, each detail plays a pivotal role in your road to recovery.

This guide will walk you through the essential aspects of your post-operative care, including the proper administration of medications, dressing changes, temperature monitoring, and scheduling essential follow-up appointments. Please read and follow these directives carefully to facilitate a successful recovery journey. Your commitment to these guidelines will significantly contribute to a smoother and faster healing process.

Rotator Cuff Range Of  Motion Timeline

  • Sling x 4 weeks
  • Passive ROM @ 4 weeks
  • Active ROM @ 7 weeks
  • Light strength @ 10 weeks

Large cuff tear

  • Sling x 6 weeks
  • PROM @ 4 weeks


SLING/MOVEMENT: How to maintain your sling when caring for your Rotator Cuff
For the first 4 weeks after surgery, you must wear your sling at all times including while you are asleep.  You may only remove the sling to shower and to perform range of motion exercises for your elbow, and the passive range of motion exercises for the shoulder (which will begin after your first post-operative visit).

You should flex and extend your elbow 3 to 4 times a day to prevent stiffness.  Do not move your elbow away from your body as this may damage the repair.

ICE: Manage Swelling to Your Rotator Cuff
An ice machine will be provided to you prior to your surgery.  This will help decrease swelling and pain after your surgery.  Use the ice machine as much as possible when you get home at intervals of 20 minutes on and off.  You should keep the ice machine for approximately two weeks.  Do not use the ice machine while you are sleeping.
MEDICATIONS: Manage Pain after Rotator Cuff Surgery
If you were given a nerve block for anesthesia, it would wear off over 18-24 hours. During this time you will have little to no feeling in the body part where you had surgery (i.e. arm).  Also, an injection of local anesthesia was injected into your shoulder after the completion of the operation. This medication will wear off in 5 to 6 hours. To control your pain during this transition while the nerve block is wearing off, you are to eat first and then begin taking the pain medication (e.g. Vicodin, Percocet, etc) immediately when you get home from surgery.  This will prevent you from having severe pain. Take the pain medication every 4 hours until you go to bed.

You have been given an antibiotic medication – please take this as prescribed until completion of the medication.

A sleeping medication (e.g. Ambien) is also provided to help you sleep at night. Take one tablet 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.

DRESSING/BANDAGES: Manage Wound Care after Rotator Cuff Surgery
Keep your surgical dressing clean and dry.  You may remove your dressing two days after surgery.  Please place band-aids over the incision sites.  At this time you may take a shower, however, you should avoid direct contact with the incision sites.  Water-proof band-aids over the incision sites are very helpful.  Please keep the incision sites clean and dry.

Do not take a bath or submerge your shoulder in water until your incision is checked at your first post-operative visit.

TEMPERATURE: Fever after Rotator Cuff Surgery
It is normal to have an elevated temperature during the first 2-3 days post-operatively.  Please call our office if your temperature is above 101oF, if there is increased redness around the incision sites, or if there is increased drainage from the incision sites.


APPOINTMENT; Post Operative Care After Rotaor Cuff Surgery
Please call the office prior to, or immediately following, your surgery in order to schedule a post-operative appointment.  This should be scheduled 7-10 days after surgery.  At that visit your stiches will be removed and you will be given a prescription for physical therapy.

Your commitment to these detailed post-operative instructions is a significant stride towards your well-being. By adhering diligently to these guidelines, you are setting the stage for a successful recovery. Remember, while the coming weeks may present challenges, each action—whether it’s wearing the sling consistently, managing your medications, or staying vigilant about temperature changes—plays an essential role in your healing process. Your proactive approach and attention to detail are pivotal in ensuring a smooth recuperation. Embrace this period as a crucial part of your journey toward restored health. Should you have any concerns or queries, our office is here to support you. Stay dedicated, remain patient, and take comfort in knowing that each step you take aligns with your ultimate goal: a complete and successful recovery. Your proactive commitment today will pave the way for a healthier tomorrow.