Some surgeries that we perform as orthopaedic surgeons take months to heal. Patients are often frustrated by the slow recovery process. Sometimes they try to do something with their injured shoulder or knee in the weeks after surgery, and they feel a sharp pain. How can you know if you harmed the repair – and yourself – after rotator cuff surgery?
I had rotator cuff surgery. About a week later, I stupidly tried to lift a bicycle with my fingertips. I immediately felt severe pain in my shoulder, and it throbbed for about 24 hours after that. My doctor says we won’t know for four to six months whether I damaged the repair. What do you look for to assess whether someone has damaged their repair?
Whether it is a rotator cuff tear or labral tear of the shoulder, ACL reconstruction of the knee, fracture of a bone or some other injury, many surgeries to fix these injuries require months to heal. Yes, we put the bone, tendon or ligament back in the right place with screws, stitches or anchors, but your body has to heal the structure in that position. That’s why we restrict certain motions and activities after surgery.
We will gradually allow more motion and strengthening exercises as the repair gets more solid. It’s a process, and one that can take a long time. The surgeon and physical therapist can speed the exercises up or slow them down based on how the patient seems to be doing.
If you do something to aggravate that body part, frequently it isn’t a sign of disrupting the repair. Continued pain, weakness, swelling and stiffness – especially if it is worse than it has been in the previous week or two – can represent damage.
In this video, I discuss what signs surgeons and physical therapists look for to determine if you have reinjured yourself and why it can be hard to know for sure for a while after surgery.
Ask Dr. Geier: Swelling and stiffness after meniscus surgery
Ask Dr. Geier – Is pain normal after plica surgery?
Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.