Rotator Cuff Tears & Surgery
What You Can Expect

In the fifth and final part of our series on rotator cuff tears we look at surgery. Mr Durrant explains your procedure and what you can expect following surgery.

If you’ve torn a rotator cuff tendon, you may need surgery to re-attach it to the bone in order to regain shoulder movement and strength.

In cases where the tear was caused by a sudden injury like a fall or sports injury, we usually recommend having the surgery as soon as possible to give you the best chance of recovery.

What can I expect in the first 24 hours?

For the first 8-12 hours after surgery, your arm will be numb due to the anaesthetic. You’ll be given pain relief to manage any discomfort once it wears off.

Your arm will be in a sling for the next 6 weeks and it’s important to limit movement to the gentle exercises we will give you.

The implants used to tie the tendon back to the bone are very strong, so they rarely fail. However, the tendon still heals at exactly the same rate it always has, and it is possible to pull the repair apart if you’re not careful.

After 6 weeks, the sling is removed and you begin doing more gentle shoulder exercises, often assisted by the uninjured arm.

At the 12-week mark, you’ll begin a strengthening program.

The timeframe within which you can return to work depends on what you do for a living.

Desk-bound workers may be able return to their jobs within a week. A tradesman or someone whose job involves heavy lifting may need to take 4-6 months off work, depending on their recovery and the level of support put in place to help them.

Sportspeople can usually return to the gym for strengthening activities around 3 months after surgery, and get back into their normal gym program by 5 ½ months.

For contact sports like rugby, we usually recommend you remain off the field for around 6 months to allow the cuff to heal and prevent it tearing again.

Re-doing the surgery is never quite as effective, so we prefer to get it right the first time around and give you as much time to heal as possible.

We hope you have enjoyed our series on rotator cuff tears. If you have not read the rest of the series you can find them below.

Part One – Rotator Cuff Tears

Part Two – Tendinosis & Degeneration

Part Three – Shoulder Bursitis

Part Four – Treating Rotator Cuff Injuries

If you feel you have a possible rotator cuff tear and live in the greater Auckland area please contact Mr Durrants rooms on 09 523 2765