Rotator Cuff Repair

Rehabilitation Programs > Physical Therapy > Rotator Cuff Repair

Post Operative Rotator Cuff Repair Guidelines

If you are issued a sling before your surgery, be sure to bring it with you to the hospital. It will be put on you by hospital staff after your surgery. Anticipate wearing the sling for 6 weeks after your surgery unless your doctor tells you otherwise. The sling is designed to protect the repair so it can heal optimally.

FAQs and Related Videos

  • How Should The Sling Fit?
    • Your elbow should sit deep inside the pocket of the sling and your wrist should be supported by the sling.
    • Keep the thumb strap under your thumb to decrease pressure on your wrist and shoulder.
    • Use the “stress ball” attached to your sling to exercise your hand.
    • Wrapping your forearm in a t-shirt or soft fabric will help to protect your skin and keep the sling clean.
  • Using Ice For Pain Relief
    • You may receive an ice machine after your surgery. The pad wraps around your shoulder and is secured with Velcro straps.
    • Keep the cooler filled with ice and water. When plugged in, it will circulate cold water around your shoulder. Cold therapy is good for pain relief and inflammation.
    • If you do not receive an ice machine at the hospital, an ice pack or bag of frozen peas works very well. Place the ice pack in a pillowcase so it doesn’t rest directly on your skin.
    • You can ice as often as 15min every hour.
  • Getting Comfortable So You Can Sleep
    • After your surgery, you may find that you are most comfortable sleeping in a recliner. If you choose to sleep in your bed, you will be more comfortable with pillows behind your arm and shoulder to support it.
  • Bathing
    • To Wash Under Your Arm
      • You may take your arm out of your sling and rest it on the bathroom sink. Then stand up and rest your hand on the sink. The sink will support the weight of your arm so it doesn’t pull on your shoulder.
      • Step away from the sink while keeping your arm on the sink. This will move your arm away from your body so you can wash under it.
    • Showering
      • Three days after your surgery you may remove your bandage and shower. Your arm may be uncomfortable hanging at your side during the shower. We recommend you place a beach ball under your arm to support it in the shower.
      • After your shower, dry the incision site with a towel and clean it with alcohol. Then cover with a bandaid.
  • Dressing
    • Wearing a large button down shirt will be the easiest to manage. Place your surgery arm through its sleeve first. Then drape the shirt around your back and put the non-surgical arm in its sleeve.
  • Using Your Arm
    • Do not lift with your arm until you are instructed to do so by your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Positioning
    • We recommend you take your arm out of the sling and rest it on a table or arm rest.
    • When propped, your arm should be resting at the same height as it is in the sling. This will enable you to move your elbow, wrist and hand to be help prevent them from getting stiff.
  • Physical Therapy
    • Your doctor will give you a prescription for physical therapy after your surgery and you may find it convenient to schedule your first therapy appointment once you know the date of your surgery. You will not be able to drive right after your surgery.
    • If you have any questions before or after your surgery, contact your doctor or the physical therapy department at (804)526-5888.