Recovering From Arthroscopic Surgery For A Shoulder Repair

It took but a second to tear the ligaments in your shoulder when playing baseball or by lifting a too-heavy object at work. Now you're in for weeks of recovery to regain your shoulder strength and mobility. Luckily, the orthopedic surgeons who examined you recommended arthroscopic surgery for the repair of the rotator cuff. This will help you to get your shoulder functionality back sooner. Here is how this procedure helps you and what you can expect from the rest of your shoulder recovery.

A Less Invasive Procedure Means Less To Heal

Traditional shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff repair requires a long incision and the disruption of many of the soft tissues in your shoulder to access the torn ligaments. This exposes your shoulder joint to the air and a greater risk of infection. It also means that more of the tissues in your shoulder must heal properly.

Arthroscopic surgery requires two small incisions to allow tubes that contain a camera and other surgical instruments into the shoulder joint. The surgeon observes the joint through a monitor and microscope using the camera. The repair is done with minimal disruption to the other soft tissues in your shoulder. You'll have fewer tissues to heal from the surgery and a reduced chance of infection since less of the shoulder joint is exposed to the air.

Recovering After the Surgery

You'll go home wearing a special arm sling that keeps your arm close to the body. This puts your shoulder in a neutral position while the soft tissues are healing. You'll wear the sling constantly for several weeks, only taking it off to bathe. A few days after getting home, you'll have a follow up appointment with your surgeon for an evaluation of the surgery. If they are satisfied with the healing progress, they will have you start physical therapy.

Regaining Range of Motion in Your Shoulder

Between not using your shoulder and the repair of the rotator cuff, your shoulder muscles and tendons will be tense. The first step in your physical therapy will be to get back the normal motion in your shoulder joint. This is done through passive, then active, physical therapy.

The therapist will first do passive physical therapy on your shoulder. This consists of the therapist moving your shoulder slowly through all of the normal range of motion. The therapist moves it for you so you don't exceed the limits of what your shoulder can do. They will then show you how to move your shoulder with your other arm through all the motions.

Once the muscles and tendons in the shoulder have nearly relaxed into their normal state, you'll do active range of motion exercises. You'll now move the shoulder itself slowly through all of the directions it normally moves. You'll make slow and incremental progress with your shoulder over several weeks. Then you will begin strength training.

Regaining Strength in Your Shoulder

The physical therapist will next have you do exercises and work with resistance machines that build up the muscle strength in your shoulder. Strong muscles in your shoulder not only help you move the shoulder, but they protect the joint from being damaged by excess forces. Strength training will take several weeks to build up normal muscle tone in your shoulder. If you are active at playing sports, you'll spend additional time in strength training to make sure the shoulder muscles are up to the rigor of those activities. Visit or a similar site for more information.