Is Rotator Cuff Surgery an Outpatient Procedure?
Yes, the surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and you can go home the same day.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
The surgery can take one to two hours, depending on how complex it is.
Is Rotator Cuff Surgery Painful?
You shouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure. Before the surgery, the anesthesia doctor will use ultrasound to inject numbing medication around your nerves to provide a regional nerve block for your shoulder. The medication numbs the area from your neck down through your arm. The doctor may also give you a sedative to help you sleep through the procedure.
How Long Does Pain Last After Surgery?
Depending on the type of regional nerve block (short- or long-acting), the block lasts 18 to 72 hours, so you won’t feel much pain immediately after surgery. Your doctor will recommend you start taking over-the-counter medications, which will keep your pain to a minimum as the nerve block wears off. An ice water cooling sleeve will also diminish pain at night. Following your doctor's instructions for pain management will help minimize the need for narcotic pain medication. Most people do not need prescription pain medication after the first week.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Rotator Cuff Surgery?
How much time your recovery and rehab take will depend on several factors, including how large your tear is, how long you had it before surgery, and how well you stick with physical therapy appointments and exercises. You’ll likely start physical therapy within a week after surgery. Over the next 16 weeks or so, you’ll gradually progress from assisted movement (your physical therapist or your good arm moving your affected shoulder) to light resistance exercises, to strengthening exercises. Assisted range of motion therapy may be delayed for large tears.
Between six and 12 weeks after surgery you can do light lifting (for example, about five pounds); the amount you can lift will gradually be increased after that. It may take six months before you can return to heavy manual labor, due to the need for endurance and strength in your shoulder. You may continue to gain strength up to a year or two following surgery.
How Long Will I Need to Wear a Sling?
You will need to wear a sling for about six weeks.
How Soon After Surgery Can I Drive?
You can drive without restrictions at six weeks.
How Soon Can I Return to Sports?
If you’re an athlete, our sports physical therapists can tailor exercises to help you return to your sport safely, maximize your performance, and reduce your risk of re-injury. Full rehabilitation may take four to six months based on the sport. Depending on your level of play, you may also undergo functional return-to-sport strength testing for sports clearance.