When can you return to work after rotator cuff surgery?

When patients schedule surgery for a bone or joint injury, one of the main factors that influences their decision is when they can return to work. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss the factors that influence the timing of returning to work after rotator cuff surgery.

Jamie asks:
Is it entirely out of the question to return to work 2 weeks after rotator cuff surgery?

There are two major factors that influence when a patient might return to work after shoulder surgery. First, the nature of the procedure plays a huge role. Is the surgeon performing a full repair of the injured rotator cuff tendon? If so, he will likely place the patient in a sling that he or she must wear for weeks. If so, the patient will not be able to drive and will be limited in the use of that arm at work. If it is just a debridement, those restrictions might not exist.

The other factor influencing work after rotator cuff surgery is the nature of the patient’s job duties. Often, if a patient works a desk job and only needs to write, type, talk on the phone and other similar activities, he or she can do it fairly quickly. On the other hand, if the job involves more physical demands and overhead use of the arm, the surgeon might restrict those duties for weeks.

In this video, I discusses these factors in more detail, including what you should discuss with your surgeon before you go under the knife.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Driving after rotator cuff surgery
Ask Dr. Geier – How can you know if you hurt yourself after surgery?
Illustration of rotation cuff tear