Returning to Sports After Rotator Cuff Surgery

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in your shoulder that helps to keep your arm in place. Every year around 2 million Americans seek medical treatment for rotator cuff injuries. About 80% of rotator cuff injuries respond to nonsurgical treatment, and the rest require surgery.

Fortunately, advances in medical technology allow us to use minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques to surgically repair rotator cuffs, making your recovery quicker and less painful.

Our team of experienced physicians at M.O.S.T. Metro Orthopedics & Sports Therapy in Potomac, Maryland, offers comprehensive solutions for shoulder pain, including rotator cuff surgery.

We also provide personalized aftercare to help you recover quickly and rebuild your strength, flexibility, and range of motion so you can get back to your sport safely.

What to expect after rotator cuff surgery

Even with minimally invasive surgery, your shoulder, back, and arm will be stiff, tender, and weak. Full recovery can take six months or more, depending on your condition, so be patient.

Listen to your doctor and don’t try to do too much too soon, or you could re-injure yourself.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is an essential part of recovering from rotator cuff surgery. We usually begin PT within the first 24 hours following your operation.

There are several phases of post-surgical shoulder physical therapy. Phase 1 includes passive range-of-motion movements to keep your muscles and connective tissue supple during the early stages of recovery.

As your shoulder heals, we gradually increase the range of motion in your passive PT and introduce some active movements. (Your therapist moves your body during passive exercises, and you move your body during active exercises.)

Over the next few months, we work together to rebuild your flexibility and range of motion. Once you can move your arm independently in all directions, we add resistance training to your PT regimen. We begin with light weights and increase the resistance slowly as you get stronger.

Regenerative medicine

We might also recommend regenerative medicine, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or stem cell therapy, to complement your physical therapy. Regenerative medicine stimulates your body’s natural ability to heal itself, which can accelerate tissue repair following surgery.

During a regenerative medicine treatment, your provider might harvest a sample of blood or stem cells from your body and create a serum. Then, using fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance, they inject the PRP or stem cells into your injured tissue.

The injection not only stimulates your body’s healing response, but it also floods your muscles, connective tissue, and bone with the cellular building blocks and nutrients you need to create new cells.

Knowing when it’s safe to return to sports

Everyone recovers from rotator cuff surgery at their own pace. We understand you’re eager to get back to training and competing, but it’s critical you follow your doctor’s advice and not return until they give you the all-clear. If you have questions about your recovery, we can help.

Call M.O.S.T. Metro Orthopedics & Sports Therapy today or make an appointment online if you have shoulder pain, need rotator cuff surgery, or are looking for expert rehabilitative care.