Physiotherapy and Rotator Cuff Recovery

When it comes to a Rotator Cuff Repair, it’s hard to look past the role of Physiotherapy in recovery. The rehabilitation may differ depending on the muscle torn, how large the tear was, any other associated damage or each surgeons’ specific instructions.

First Four To Six Weeks After Surgery

After the surgery you will be placed in a sling for approximately four to six weeks, lucky you. This is essentially done to limit your shoulder movement and therefore stop the rotator cuff muscles from working.

During the first four to six weeks your sling will be removed for exercises. The exact movements that you will complete will depend on the area of the cuff that has been repaired.

Your Medwest physiotherapist will move your shoulder on your behalf and teach someone at home to help complete the same movements.

This is also the time to work on the range of movement in the rest of your arm. While you are wearing the sling, it is important to move your wrist and when your arm is supported you can bend and straighten your elbow.

Depending upon your surgeons instructions, you may be able to start weaning off the sling prior before the six week mark, but that just depends on how your body is healing.

Six Weeks To Twelve Weeks After Surgery

The six-week mark is a huge deal as this is the time that you can start to move you shoulder (with assistance) yourself! Your physiotherapist will direct you with what movements you should complete and how much assistance is required.

Over this new six-week time frame, you will work on mobilising and strengthening your shoulder blade muscles and gaining full active shoulder range.

This is also a great time to slowly increase cardio vascular exercises as well. Please note that the type of exercise you choose needs to have a low risk of falling over and can not load the shoulder. Walking is an awesome way to start.


Twelve Weeks Onward After Surgery

From twelve weeks you can start to slowly strengthen your rotator cuff muscles. Please remember that you shoulder has not worked very much in the last 12 weeks therefore this needs to start VERY light.

Your physiotherapist will guide you with what exercises and weights to complete to gain the strength back in your shoulder.

The last stage of rehabilitation is returning to exercises that are specific to your function, job or the type of sport that you would like to return to.

Talk to your physiotherapist about what you want to be able to achieve and your exercise program will be focused towards this.

If you have any questions regarding rehabilitation after a rotator cuff repair or if you are due to have surgery, contact the Team of Physiotherapists at Medwest Health Care to discuss the best rehabilitation program appropriate for you.