If you are an athlete, trainer, or maybe just someone who mistook their own ability for hanging Christmas lights, a rotator cuff injury might be something you are dealing with right now. Rotator cuff surgery can be tough to recover from.

A rotator cuff injury involves the rotator cuff tendons and muscles in your shoulder and can cause pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. The rotator cuff is responsible for supporting many of our daily arm movements, even the most minute. 

Dr. M. Daniel Hatch and Utah Shoulder have the experience to help teach others about recovering from these painful injuries, which is why we have created this guide. Here are 5 tips to help you recover from a rotator cuff injury:

1. Take it Easy!

Sometimes, if you have that workaholic spirit, the idea that you may just need to relax for a bit can be frustrating. But, it is important to remember that rotator cuff injuries can take time to heal and need rest in order to do so. 

Avoiding activities that require your shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles until you are cleared by a doctor will help ensure that your rotator cuff has healed properly. This may mean that it’s time to give the gym a rest, or maybe let someone else hang those Christmas lights! Whatever you need to do, take the time to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs.

2. Use a Sling Appropriately

Following a rotator cuff surgery, you will need to wear a sling. Most rotator cuff surgeries require the use of a sling for at least 6 weeks after your surgery. Once you move beyond that point, then you can slowly start to work with slings less and less as you increase your activity level. 

While using a sling is important to protecting your rotator cuff during the healing process, it’s also good to keep in mind that prolonged immobility can lead to more muscle atrophy and possible frozen shoulder, so make sure to take breaks and get some light shoulder movements in when possible (only when approved by your doctor).

3. Follow the Timeline Set by Your Doctor

Everyone’s rotator cuff injuries and recovery timelines are different, so it’s important to follow the timeline prescribed by your doctor. Following a rotator cuff surgery, there are several stages of rehabilitation that you will need to go through before being allowed to return to full activity. During this time, make sure not to rush your recovery as it can lead to further injury down the road.

4. Stay Active with Low-Impact Exercises

As long as you have been cleared by your doctor, low-impact exercises such as swimming can be great ways to help with rotator cuff rehab while still staying active. These types of activities allow for movement without putting too much strain on the rotator cuff muscles. Be sure to talk to your doctor prior to starting any type of exercise program, so that you can have a plan in place for proper rehabilitation.

5. Do the Recommended Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an important tool in rotator cuff recovery and can help with restoring normal shoulder range of motion and strength. Your physical therapist will be able to provide appropriate exercises and stretches tailored specifically for rotator cuff injuries, as well as provide additional guidance on how best to manage pain levels during recovery.

You Can Shoulder On!

Recovering from a rotator cuff injury takes time, but by following these tips you should be back on the field or court soon! 

At The Orthopedic Partners, an RCM Clinic Dr. M. Daniel Hatch understands the importance of recovering properly. His team is available to answer any questions that you may have and provide additional guidance throughout your recovery journey. If you would like further information, please contact us today!