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Checklist for successful recovery of your rotator cuff surgery

A wise decision to undergo rotator cuff repair surgery will restore the full use of your shoulder. Rotator cuff repair surgery is done to repair a torn tendon in the shoulder. The main ways of doing this surgery are with a large (open) incision or with shoulder arthroscopy, which uses smaller incisions.

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A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons forming a cuff over the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons keep the arm in its joint and help the shoulder joint move and keep it stable. Overuse or injury causes tendon tears. If you are feeling pain in your shoulder when you lift your arm over your head, it may mean that you have a problem with your rotator cuff. Pain in the rotator cuff area means you have tendinitis or inflammation of these tendons and the bursa. The bursa is a smooth, slippery sac in which the tendons glide across.

Rotator cuff tendinitis can result from keeping your arm in the same position for long periods, such as doing computer work, hairstyling, and sleeping on the same arm each night. Rotator cuff tendinitis can occur due to playing sports requiring you to repeatedly move your arm over your head, such as tennis, baseball, pitching, swimming, and weight-lifting. 

With tendonitis, you’ll have pain when you brush your hair and reach for objects on shelves. As time passes, you may have pain at rest or night, especially when you lie on your shoulder. The pain can be intense, making your shoulder weak, and you may hear a snapping sound when you move your shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Surgery in a nutshell

The surgery is done under general anaesthesia or regional anaesthesia. Both the arm and shoulder are numbed, so you do not feel any pain. 

The common techniques used to repair a rotator cuff tear are:

Open repair surgery: A surgical incision is made, and the deltoid muscle is gently moved out of the way to do the surgery. This type of surgery is done for large or more complex tears.

Arthroscopy surgery: An arthroscope connected to a video monitor is inserted through a small incision. The video camera allows the surgeon to view the inside of the shoulder. A couple of small incisions allow other instruments to be inserted.

Mini-open repair surgery: if there are any damaged tissues or bone spurs, they are removed or repaired using an arthroscope. Then a 2- to 3-inch (5 to 7.5 centimetres) incision is made to repair the rotator cuff.

What is the checklist for the successful recovery of the rotator cuff?

The success of any surgery depends on following the discharge and self-care instructions you were given. You will leave the hospital in a sling or a shoulder immobilizer. The duration of how long you wear the sling or immobilizer will depend on the type of surgery you had. Depending on the size of the tear and other factors, recovery can take 4 to 6 months. Pain medication helps in managing pain.

Post-surgery physical therapy can help you regain motion and strength. One should follow instructions for any shoulder exercises you are told to do.

At Hyderabad Shoulder Clinic, our goal is that our patients get the best care for their shoulders, and we use the latest surgical techniques to help minimize downtime and speed up recovery. We are sharing the checklist for a successful recovery from your rotator cuff surgery

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  1. Get a good support system around you 

When you have to get the surgery done, you’ll need the help of your friends and family. Post-surgery, you have to give rest to your shoulders, which means that many activities of your daily life will be temporarily turned upside-down. For simple tasks like driving your car or wearing clothes, you will need to rely on friends and family to help you through. Be prepared to ask for help.

  1. Re-arrange your shower items

Bathroom rearrangement helps you to prepare for your recovery. Maybe install a hand shower, since you should keep the surgical site dry for a certain period. Get some hand pumps for your soap and shampoo. Don’t use hard-to-squeeze bottles with just one arm. A shower chair isn’t bad, especially if you’re taking pain medications.

  1. Easy-to-wear functional clothing

Can you button and zip up your jeans or pull on a t-shirt with just one hand? That’s difficult, right? So wear pants with elastic waistbands and shirts that open in the front. During this time, making a few wardrobe changes will prevent a lot of frustration.

  1. Sleep on a sturdy pillow

Sleep with your arm nestled atop a pillow where it won’t move around much. Even sitting on a couch or using a pillow will reduce the pressure on the healing shoulder. 

  1. Take gut care

After your surgery and while you’re taking any pain medications, some experience problems with constipation. So keep some laxatives handy, and eat high-fibre foods to keep things flowing more smoothly during your recovery.

  1. Make your daily routine easy 

Readjust your daily activities so that you are giving your shoulders rest. Try to sign up for a healthy meal service which does door-deliver a healthy diet. Hire extra help to do household chores so that your shoulders are resting.

  1. Find ways to engage yourself

Utilize this downtime to do productive tasks. You can sign up for some online classes, catch up on reading, and talk to friends and family that you have lost touch with for a while. Do a little research into a future project since a forced timeout gives you a unique opportunity to refocus your attention for a little while. 

  1. Patience is the key

If you are an active person, you mustn’t push your recovery, which may take up to six months. Patiently participate in your physical therapy, and let your body heal properly. You will be rewarded for your patience with a strong shoulder.

Dr Chandra Sekhar B takes end-to-end care of his patients. He guides them throughout the journey of rotator cuff surgery. For more info, please visit our website or reach us at 

+91 9959588389,

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