Shoulder - Rotator Cuff/Impingement Recovery

Post-surgical care for impingement and rotator cuff tears are similar. General care recommendations include:

  • Incisions must be kept dry for two or three days after surgery.

  • Stitches are usually removed 7 - 10 days after surgery.

Rehabilitation programs for impingement and rotators cuff surgery differ slightly.

Impingement rehabilitation begins almost immediately:
  • Exercises to regain shoulder motion usually begin with a therapist in the first week after surgery and continue for about 6 weeks.

  • At 6 weeks, most patients have regained full motion and will continue to regain strength with a home exercise program.

  • Full recovery time after surgery varies; most patients have greatly improved at 3 months and are close to normal by 6 months.

Rotator cuff recovery is generally slower and requires more supervision. In order to achieve a full and rapid recovery, surgery should be performed as soon as the patient has full range of motion and has gained good muscle strength from a physical therapy program started when the injury is first detected. After surgery, the patient follows a closely monitored program:
  • Therapy is carefully controlled in the first 6 - 12 weeks while the tendons heal back to the bone.
  • The first goal is to regain full motion within 3 months after surgery. A therapist will assist in the early stages with gradual recovery of motion.
  • During the first 6 weeks, there is no active use of the shoulder in order to protect the surgical repair.
  • Once initial healing is achieved, a progressive stretching and strengthening program should begin.
  • Full recovery can take more than 6 months. Some patients may require more time to regain muscle strength and complete the healing process.

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