Shoulder pain is no joke, especially if you’re someone who lives a fairly active lifestyle. Whether you’re an athlete, a trainer, or just a homeowner who happened to trip and fall in the wrong place, a rotator cuff injury can create a lot of stress and pain. If a torn bicep has you benched for the foreseeable future, you’ve probably considered undergoing rotator cuff surgery. This surgery is a fairly non-invasive procedure that helps sufferers find relief from the pain of a torn rotator cuff. While the procedure is fairly common and is practiced by any licensed orthopedic doctor richmond va, undergoing any kind of surgery can be intimidating. That’s why the more you know about the process, the recovery time, and all the ways you can make your post-op time more pleasant, the faster you’ll be able to heal and get on with your life. If you’re on the verge of getting rotator cuff surgery, here are a few things to be aware of.
1. Wear Your Sling At All Times
There’s no getting around it: Having to wear a shoulder sling is a pain. However, if you slack off on wearing your sling, the complications are bound to show up and make your recovery time more unpleasant and potentially even longer. Even though you might be tempted to take it off while sleeping or before showering, resist this urge. Basically, the less you move your arm in any capacity, the better (and quicker) you’ll heal. Don’t risk submitting your injured shoulder to sudden movement, and try to keep your arm as stiff and immobile as possible at least for the first week. After that time, you’ll be able to speak to your doctor during your first post-op visit about easing up on the sling.
2. Purchase Easy-to-Use Appliances to Limit Arm Use
You never know just how much you need to use your upper arm until you’re absolutely prohibited from using it. That’s why it never hurts to plan in advance. Many of the complications that occur after rotator cuff surgery are the direct result of patients not taking the recovery time seriously enough. Just because the surgery is non-invasive doesn’t mean you should slack off on recovery. Some suggested items to have on hand are shower chairs, detachable shower heads, lots of pillows, and pump soap and skincare products. If you make your home as recovery-friendly as possible, you won’t be constantly thinking about how limited your movements are during recovery.
3. Don’t Overdo It
When a surgery goes well and you’re resting with the help of painkillers, it’s easy to overestimate just how ready you are to get back to your old routine. Even if you’re feeling great after your surgery, don’t go risking any kind of prolonged injury by resuming your active lifestyle. During convalescence, you’ll want to get up and be active, but it’s in your best interest to remain at rest so that your arm can heal quickly and properly.
4. Keep Up with Physical Therapy
After surgery, you’ll be given a few exercises to help keep your muscles active and to help the healing process along. Even if you don’t feel the need to do these after you have your sling and bandages off, it’s in your best interest to continue. Whether you’re going to a physical therapy trainer every week or doing a few at-home exercises each day, it’s simple enough to incorporate these into your usual routine. Even though the post-surgery recovery time for an injured rotator cuff is six to eight weeks, the damage to your shoulder could potentially last up to six months, leaving you vulnerable to another injury. To avoid this, use gentle exercises to help you stay more aware of your body and avoid risking more pain and downtime.
5. Make Sure You Have Enough Emotional Support
No matter how well you do during recovery, you simply don’t want to have to go through it alone. Whether you have a friend or family member stay with you or rely on the support of a partner, you shouldn’t have to go through your day-to-day tasks unaided, at least for the first few weeks. Not only is it helpful to have a partner or friend around to make basic tasks easier, it also helps to provide you with the much-needed emotional support that can speed the healing process along. Surgeries, however small, can bring up a lot of pain and vulnerability in patients. Without someone to talk to, these feelings could easily get to a point of feeling overwhelming and isolating. Don’t feel like you need to go through it alone. Reach out to someone close to you and ask them to lend a hand during your recovery.