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Rotator Cuff Tear Surgery: What To Expect

By Sports Medicine Oregon




Sports Medicine Recovery Journal

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Team Physicians for:

Team Physicians for the Portland Timbers and Portland Thunder

Team Physicians for the Portland Timbers and Portland Thunder

The Procedure

You are having a rotator cuff repair. Surgical correction seeks to repair the cuff tear using anchors and sutures. There are cases in which the tear is either too large or too complicated to be done through the arthroscope and a larger incision is necessary. An acromioplasty, removing a small amount of bone from the undersurface of the acromion, is also performed in conjunction with a rotator cuff repair, correcting impingement.

Your surgery will take approximately one to two hours. You will wake up in the recovery room where your progress will be observed for one to two hours. Your family or friends may visit you here.

Preparing for Rotator Cuff Surgery

You should not have anything to eat or drink 8 hours prior to your check in the day/night before your surgery. All medications that you use should be discussed with your surgeon before your surgery takes place. Most medications can be taken the day of surgery, following the procedure. If you are diabetic, or have any other concerns about medications, please discuss this with the surgeon as special arrangements may be necessary. The anesthesiologist will try to speak with you the night before to discuss anesthesia. Should this call be missed, you will speak to the anesthesiologist at the bedside before your procedure begins. Please wear loose clothing. Please have the correct date, time and location of your surgery confirmed before the date. You will need someone to drive you home and accompany you for the next 24 hours.

After Rotator Cuff Surgery

You will have a sling in place that will secure and limit the activity of your arm. You may wear this over a shirt for more comfort. You also may remove the sling and move your elbow, wrist and fingers but no lifting of objects or your arm. You will also have a cold pack that is attached to a cooling unit which you may use according to your tolerance. Please be aware of the skin beneath the cooling pad and protect it with a small cloth or towel to avoid burning or other skin irritation. Do not place the cooling pad directly on your skin.

Do not submerge your wounds in a bathtub, hot tub, pool, etc., until the incisions are completely healed (7-10 days).

Pain Medication

You should receive your prescriptions at your preoperative visit. Fill the prescription prior to your surgery. You need to begin taking your medication following the surgery before your pain begins. Take your medication on a regular schedule as directed before your shoulder begins to hurt. You should take your medication with food to help alleviate stomach discomfort or nausea.

Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Repair

Physical therapy will begin several days to weeks following your surgery, depending on the size of your repair. You will receive a prescription for therapy at your preoperative visit. Please call and schedule an appointment as soon as you can to alleviate delays in scheduling.

Follow Up Appointments

You will have a scheduled post-operative visit in a week to 10 days following your procedure. At that time, the surgeon will meet with you check your wounds and discuss your surgery findings, pertinent information, future prognosis and rehabilitation plan. We will also give you recommendations regarding activity and limitations. Usually, we will check your progress once every month.

You are encouraged to call our office with any questions that you may have after the procedure. You should call immediately should you develop a temperature greater than 101 degrees F, numbness or tingling in the operative arm, excessive drainage or excessive bleeding from the incisions, nausea or vomiting, uncontrolled pain or any other symptoms that you have concerns about.