My Life in a Sling! – Rotator Cuff Surgery

Update: See my note about personal journaling and how it’s been valuable to me. If you’re heading to surgery, think about how you’re going to capture your feelings afterwards!

Two weeks ago, I had surgery on the rotator cuff in my right shoulder. A few months ago, I took a nasty fall in the dark and managed to do some serious damage to a couple of tendons in my shoulder. Apparently, they were in rough shape to begin with and, according to the Doc, the fall just finished them off.

After learning more than I ever cared to about shoulder surgery (and surgeons), I finally went under the knife two weeks ago. It was an outpatient process – I showed up for the prep at 9:30 AM, the surgery began about noon, and I was waking up in recovery about 2:30 PM that afternoon – shortly to head home.

The worst pain of the whole experience was definitely in recovery – as I was learning to grapple with what hurt. After that, the pain abated – within a few days it was gone completely – replacing the dull ache pre-surgery. For the first 72 hours after the surgery, I used an ice machine while awake to help with the healing. It was a painless affair – not even feeling cold in the shoulder.

Scott Loftesness - Rotator Cuff Surgery SlingLearning to live my new life with my right arm in a sling is the rest of the story so far. I shed the sling 2-3 times each day to do the “elephant trunk” passive therapy exercise – designed to help ensure the joint remains flexible. I also am able to shower without the sling – but all of the rest of the day (and night!) are spent with my arm in the sling. No driving, rough sleeping – I’ve got a whole new appreciation for what arms are for! Fortunately, I’m able to use my right hand to type even when the arm is in the sling – so my computer work has not been impacted at all.

My sling needs to stay on for another four weeks – it’s scheduled to end on Dec. 7. Between now and then, learning how to best sleep (Tylenol PM seems to help a lot!) remains most challenging. I used to prefer sleeping on my right shoulder – the one that had the surgery – so I’ve had to learn to sleep on the other side. Sleeping on my back, the only other option, is just not comfortable for me.

By the way, my surgeon was Dr. Colin Eakin at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. As I learned and appreciated (!), he’s extremely skilled at this kind of arthroscopic surgery!

One more thing. It’s fascinating how when something like this happens to you that you learn just how many other people have been through the same experience! Have you had rotator cuff surgery?

1,211 Replies to “My Life in a Sling! – Rotator Cuff Surgery”


    2. I just came across this site and read some of the stories and found it very helpful. I had a tear on my left shoulder and had rotator cuff surgery on June 15, 2016. I have not experience any pain only a little soreness, but I noticed the back of my left hand is very swollen. I am wearing a sling and also using an ice pack. I am taking the pain medication twice a day since they are helping with the soreness. I am scheduled to see my doctor on June 28, 2016. I will give you all an update with my recovery. My husband has been helping me with bathing and cooking our meals.

      1. Best wishes to you on your recovery and rehab. Hope it all goes off without a hitch and that the swelling is temporary.

        I’ve been thinking about patients with rotator cuff surgery since hearing about the crackdown on pain meds. Here at “My Life in a Sling” I see we’ve all had different experiences–some people didn’t experience much pain and others, like me, found it very painful.

        I had to use the strong pain med for probably 5-6 weeks (it wasn’t at all addictive though it did slow my GI tract down) then I was switched to Tramadol (I think that’s what it was called) which was absolutely worthless.

        I hope for the sake of those who endure the pain of shoulder surgery, that physicians are coming up with innovative and EFFECTIVE ways to deal with the pain if they are going to quit giving the targeted meds from the crackdown.

        For those newer to shoulder surgery, I’d be curious what your experience was on the meds, particularly if you were affected quite a bit by the pain.

        1. Hello, Brenda.
          Re post op pain, I had a reverse shoulder replacement in June and, while I wasn’t pain free, I didn’t think it was that bad. I used Tramadol which I found quite effective and I alternated with Tylenol. I now occasionally use Tylenol.

          1. Dee, I’m glad your experience with the pain levels wasn’t too bad. And that Tramadol worked for you shows how variable all the medications are. I just find it fascinating how what doesn’t work for one works for something else. Thanks for posting.

        2. Hi Brenda, I’m 4 weeks out of Rotator Cuff Repair. The day after surgery my family had to evacuate from Hurricane Matthew and we traveled in our travel trailer to a campsite upstate. My MD gave me Percocet, 7.5 mg and I also took Advil post op, per MD’s ok. The ES Tylenol did not help at all. I had 2 cm full thickness tears in 3 different tendons. Surgeon told me I was going to have a lot of pain and has also given me another refill on the Percocet. A coworker only had a Labral tear and she said she never took her pain pill but I am still requiring one in the morning and one at night. I don’t think that’s too much. Your body cannot heal and you can’t benefit from PT f you are tensed up. One post op man told me his PT suggested to ask his surgeon for a Valium RX to take before his PT. This man claimed it helped him tremendously. Good luck with your recovery. I expect to return to work after Thanksgiving on light duty status. There is no way I am going through this again

          1. Ann,

            I’m glad to hear they weren’t stingy with the medication regimen. Best wishes on your continued recovery. And I’m with you. I never want to do shoulder surgery again!

        3. I had open rotator cuff surgery on nov 18, 2016 . Turns out I am allergic to all pain meds except tramadol. I have learned to take a tramadol with 2 extended release tylenol. This helps control the pain. My pain really didnt start again until about week 3 however I still have to sleep in the recliner.

          1. OMG I WAS SO BLESSED! My pain never got terrible! After surgery took pian meds regular to stay ahead of the pain!! And the nerve block and the ball with meds for three days help so much never had horrible pain! Repair a full thickness tear bone spurs shaved bursitis and frozen shoulder!! Doc told me I had the real deal!! Then went back to driving school bus again surgery 8 months later!
            So had second surgery in 8 mos it was so easy! But that sling!!

        4. Hi guys I just had my surgery on Friday I haven’t had a lot of pain but I am very uncomfortable and my arm feels like it’s in a constant spasm …….I starting to get light shooting pains in my shoulder and a light burning sensation were I had tear under my arm my fingers are swollen as well and I don’t know if I should take my sling off to shower I have kept it on

      2. Let us know how your check up went. I found this place called They sell clothing specifically for people who are dealing with surgery. It is helpful to get dressed without needing to move your arm in a sling. check them out. It worked for my son when he went for surgery.

        1. Great for you Rene. You were fortunate . I had rotator cuff repair on left arm in 2013 and block didn’t work so I was in miserable pain. I had same surgery plus bone spurs on right arm on December 29th. The first two days were extreme pain and the meds weren’t helping. I was on percocet, and flexeral. My arm is still very sensitive to pain and my elbow hurts wearing this sling and sleeping in it is a major challenge. I don’t want to ever do this again.

          1. I was injured at work and suffered a full tear in my rotator cuff and shredded my bicep tendon. I was able to schedule surgery and expected good results. 8 anchors were required to re-attach my tendons and i had to get open surgery to repair the bicep which looked like it exploded. The nerve block was awesome, until it wore off. I started taking 2 of the 5-325 Percocet (as prescribed) around 2PM figuring that when the nerve block wore off around 7PM I’d have some painkillers already in me. I took 2 every 4 hours. Apparently I was taking sugar cubes. The pain never subsided. I was up for about 48 hours straight before i felt any relief. I took Motrin in between and that seemed more effective. I changed ice packs regularly. Its been 6 weeks since surgery, I’ve started PT to a very small degree. Its getting better but I still get cramping and at times it seems like I can feel every anchor in my arm. I’ve basically moved into my living room because I cannot lay flat. My recliner is my new bed. I recommend having lots of ice, lots of help and lots of patience. Good Luck !!

      3. Pamela,
        Wondering if the fingers on your left hand are swollen as well and has it resolved?

        I had a right reverse total shoulder replacement in June and about three to four weeks afterwards (still in a sling) my right wrist and fingers became mildly swollen, making it a challenge to make a fist. There was a fair amount of swelling under my arm and, of course being in a sling most of the time for six weeks doesn’t help. By gravity it seeps downward and then, I am told, can take quite awhile for the body to reabsorb. It’s better now but not gone and I was wondering about others’ experiences. Thanks in advance.

        1. OMG… i thought i was the only person going threw this hell!!… and hell it is.. im in new zealand and have had to ops to dominant left shoulder rotorcuff .. 9yrs and still the pain discomfort, swelling,veins bursting,fingers numb, movement quarter of what it was… and right arm well … that dosent help me much other than straining it in the rotorcuff doing vaccuming… my heart goes out to u all..

  1. I am scheduled for surgery on March 29th. Just wondering if you were able to manage taking the sling off and on by yourself. Since I live alone, I am nervous about that aspect of the surgery/recovery. Do you think I will need assistance to bathe/get dressed/etc.? Good luck with your recovery.

    1. I had mine done dec 20 and for the first week i would recommend help with bathing and dressing it after that its not to bad except for having 5 kids lol lots of luck to you! Kelly

      1. I had mine on March 29th, so you and I must be at about the same place right now. I am back to work, though not by choice (I have no benefits).

        I’m pretty sore, and afraid to remove the sling because of resulting pain, but I do it. I talk myself through my shower and dressing every morning, and am very very careful.

        Oddly, I’m sleeping well, curled on my other side with sore shoulder and sling propped on top of me. The pendulum exercises and arm raises are trying, but I know themore I do, the stronger I will be, themore thepain will lessen.

        Good luck, and stay strong.


        1. Hi, I had mine 5 days ago. Mine was a complete tear of rotator cuff and was displaced about a inch from where it should be connected to bone. I am surprisingly doing well. I have very little pain and my sutures have healed well and had a full shower today and washing the surgery site with soap. I am however leery of undoing the repair and trying to wear the sling all the time. I am sleeping well also. I am down to about one or two pain pills a day, and probably don’t need any, but taking some just because I have them. I could have gone to work yesterday if I had to, but am staying home because when I get back it will be back to the grind. I am feeling a little guilty staying at home and watching TV all the time, when I can go back to work 🙁

          I had my first PT and did the pendulum thing. I saw my doc today as well. She was surprised how little pain I have. She however wanted to me to take it easy and use the cast all the time. The sling is bulky and looks awkward :(. This is the one down side to the surgery :(. I wish I could get back to hiking and other activities.

          Anyway, I am a 45 years old male, and this surgery has been really a breeze given it was arthroscopic surgery. I have had 4 back surgeries (two L5-S1 fusions) and three knee surgeries (ACL reconstruction) and now the rotator cuff surgery. Pain-wise this surgery has been night and day compared to the back surgeries. I think my doc did an awesome job where the post surgery pain has been minimal. The PT person said most other patients experience a lot of pain like mentioned in some of the posts here. So I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. I hope my recovery will be as good as the surgery experience.

          Good luck to all the folks having the same surgery. Don’t worry about the post surgery pain, just do the surgery and get your arm back to how it was.


          1. Glad it’s been smooth so far, Nalin. So your PT and doc are believers in the start PT early thing. As mine have been. So I’d be curious–if you happen to think of it at the time, I’d love to hear a report of how you’re doing between weeks 4-8, since that’s the time I found most difficult of the whole shebang (I’m 11 weeks post op today).

          2. Hi BK,

            Thanks. Yes, I will let you know how I’m doing in 4-8 weeks time. That is when I get rid of the sling. Yes, the PT was on the 4th day after surgery. Given your comments I suspect I will also have harder times coming. The doc said that the pain will go back up in the coming weeks and then go back down finally. I guess the pain is related to the PT exercises. I am sure they will give PT exercises which will make it inflamed and painful in the coming days. In fact the doc said I will have to do refill of the pain meds. I was not sure this is needed. In any case we will find out in the coming weeks.


          3. Hooray for sleep! The hideous, never ending insomnia finally stopped at some point last week. I can also sleep lying on the operated side for a while (something I thought would NEVER happen, even before the surgery, due to the pain on that side). I am grateful for the healing power of the body!

          4. Nalin – Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones! I honestly think that each surgery is different because each injury is different. So many factors to take into account, besides just age, gender, health level, etc. If you waited a year to get the surgery, like I did, the torn tendons may shrink to the point that they have to be stretched to the limit to be reattached to the bone. If you had a lot of old scar tissue and the surgeon decides to debride it all, you may be in a lot more pain than the person with relatively little scar tissue. I know my surgeon ended up removing even more scar tissue during my second surgery, and the internal workings of my shoulder were already inflamed and traumatized to begin with. My worst pain was during the 3rd and 4th week after my 2nd surgery (and I was still immobilized with no PT allowed due to complications with one of the screws getting pulled back out of the bone after the 1st surgery). After the 4th week and finally starting PT, I am actually in much LESS pain. I also think that it is a huge bonus that you are sleeping well so soon in the recovery process. I had wicked insomnia for about 7.5 weeks which was so debilitating and negatively affected every aspect of my life. If you have little pain and are sleeping well only 5 days out, I have a feeling you will do great during PT and recovery 😀

          5. Hi Demetra,

            Yes, you are probably right, The doc did tell me to do the surgery within 2 months of the injury or I will have complications, making surgery harder. I did my surgery within a month of the injury. You are right about each injury being unique. I guess pain is also relative. I can handle a lot of pain usually. In any case glad you are doing well yourself after the second surgery. I hope this is my first and the last surgery on my shoulder.

          6. Ok, here’s my two week update. It was exactly two weeks ago I had my surgery. I am doing fine so far. I went for PT yesterday and got some good stretch exercises done. I am mostly pain free right now. I am back at work and typing away, given I’m on the computer all the time. I do get sharp pains in my shoulder occasionally, but is not a big deal.

            I am really stressed out about wearing this sling at work and walking around. I feel I am cheating all the folks with the sling on. People look at me like I’m really messed up, which I’m NOT. So to get around it I stay in my office as much as possible and try not to venture out. I even keep the door partially closed so folks don’t see me with my sling on.

            I don’t think I’ve recovered by any means. I do feel a lot of weakness in the hand. If anything, the only issue I have is my neck is very stiff and I have some neck pain. I do mess with my neck all the time, twisting/bending it till I hear a cracking sound. I am down to about one pain pill a day now. I am eager to get back to slowly working out. I did a hike last week of about 7 miles round trip (mostly flat terrain). Would have gone for a lot more if not for it getting dark. One guy joked saying “one hand hiking… eh?”. the upcoming weekend I can see myself going on a longer hike. I do all this with my sling on.

            Can’t wait to get back to normal, hopefully within a month or so.


          7. Glad to hear it’s going so well. Interesting thing is, before I had the surgery or immediately after, I’d read lots of input from people who’d had problems with their neck with having to wear the sling. That’s the one problem I had very little of. Go figure.

          8. I’ve had terrible trouble with my neck because of the damn sling and only now (9 weeks) is it slightly better!

          9. Here’s my 5 week update. It was exactly 5 weeks ago I had my surgery. A week ago exactly I shed the sling. I have been careful with my hand since. But, want to get to a normal routine so that I will have less stiffness. I was doing really well, no pain, pretty good flexibility. But, around the 30th day after surgery I ended up sleeping on my operated shoulder overnight. In the morning I was really feeling sore and I felt I had regressed and might have undone the surgery. I was having pain down the hand and then also a lot of neck pain and shoulder pain (probably like a week after the surgery). I was so freaked out and just took it easy. It took about 2-3 days to slowly get back to the way I was before.

            I talked to my PT person and she said it definitely will do that if you sleep on your shoulder after 30 days of surgery and other patients can’t even sleep 5 minutes they wake up in pain and have to turn around. Anyway, I was kind of worried initially. I saw my doc also around 33 days after surgery and asked her if I had undone the surgery. She said absolutely NOT and it was doing fine. Phew.. big relief … Anyway, I’ve getting used to the life without a sling and it is good so far.

            I asked my doctor about going out hiking, camping, backpacking :). She said it is too early for that and if I fall I will undo the surgery. I’m actually going camping this weekend. A friend was supposed to come with me, but he chickened out with the weather turning cold. Anyway, will see how it goes and decide if I’m going or not later. Life has to go on and I also have to do what I have to do….

          10. Almost 7 years ago, I fell on the ice and shattered my right elbow. Had surgery; radial head removed, screw placed into elbow joint (?) Went through 4 months of rehab. Regained full motion. Only went through one ” season change” where my elbow hurt. Then 6 years later, at the same time that I was dealing with a bulging disk, of which wasn’t diagnosed for 2 excruciating weeks. An xray of my right arm showed that the prosthesis had dislodged from the reconstructive site, whereby causing numbness/sharp/dull/throbbing pain. In October of 2012, I underwent surgery to remove the prosthesis. Surgery was a success and I never had one moment of pain 🙂

            In January of 2013, once again I fell on the ice, and again landing smack dab on my right elbow. I knew the moment I hit that I had fractured my elbow again. Immediately, I went to the ER and after xrays was told nothing was fractured but my elbow was very banged up; internal bleeding, swelling, fluid retention, and bruising. Actually, I was told I would have been better off had I fractured my elbow, that my injuries would take quite some time to heal. Went to my Orthopedic Surgeon the next day with the xrays and my surgeon confirmed what the ER diagnosed. He placed my in a splint and sling for good measure and to return for follow up in 30 days. Follow up xrays actually confirmed that I did in fact have a fracture…a Corinoid fracture. Was placed in a cast for 4 weeks. Follow up visit showed slight improvement and was put back in a splint for 30 days. Follow up visit xrays this time actually showed no improvement at all since the very beginning…placed in another cast for 6 weeks this time. This went on and on because the surgeon did not want to resort to surgery, which by the way is pretty much a given with a Corinoid fracture, no matter how big or small. Bottom line…surgeon concluded that the reason for no improvement was because I basically had no stability left in my elbow…surgery was eminent. Surgery lasted approximately 2.5 hours and the surgeon this type of surgery was a “bear” compared to when I shattered my elbow, plus I’ve ended up with possible permanent nerve damage in my pinky finger, entire side of hand, and elbow (I was warned of this risk before surgery). My occupation is a Cosmetologist and throughout this whole ordeal I have only missed work for 1 week for each surgery. I’m sure my type of work has not help this lack of healing.

            I’d love to say there is a happy ending to this…unfortunately not. For the past 4 weeks, I have had to work alone due to a serious injury to my manager. After the 1st week of working alone (double-duty) I woke up and not had extreme pain in my right arm, which to this day is still in a splint since surgery…now I am unable to move my left arm. I made it a point to do nothing by veg the entire weekend. Upon getting into the shower I saw a 4″ diameter black/blue bruise. Went back to my surgeon who ordered an MRI even though he thought I probably just sprained a ligament. Received a call from my surgeon last Wednesday stating that I had torn the rotator cuff and it was an inch away from the bone, so I assume that means a complete tear? I didn’t think to ask him…I guess because I was in shock. I guess by now you have concluded that this has not been a good year for me!

            Because of my job, I cannot have the surgery until December 23rd. I take advil and a muscle relaxer in the morning, which helps a little, but by 2:00 p.m. the pain becomes pretty intense and I’m not sleeping well at all because now I have BOTH arms not in such good working order. The surgeon has stated that after surgery, I should be able to return to work within 1-2 weeks, and I will be limited to manicures/pedicures only because I will not be able to raise my arm.

            I’m sorry this “comment” turned into a “novel”…just thought it would be helpful to give complete insight on what I am and have been dealing with. If anyone is still awake after reading this, I would appreciate any and all info regarding the surgery (it’s going to be outpatient) recoup time, rehab time, and any other suggestions how to survive this along with my other “bumb” arm.

            Thank you so much for reading my life story 🙂

          11. Hi Vanessa,

            Sounds like you’ve been through it all. Sorry to hear that you are having such a bad year. But on the bright side the RC surgery is probably going to be a lot easier than your other surgeries. But, the full recovery time seems more with shoulder getting stiff. With a full RC tear the hand felt like it was hanging without any support. It felt like the hand was displaced about half inch. That feeling is not there anymore with the surgery. I feel great. So I think you will appreciate the surgery after it is done and you recover.

            Good luck. I’m sure you will be fine. Also, from your description of your earlier surgeries you sound like you are warrior and good at coping with surgery and the pain that comes with it. Good luck with your surgery and keep us updated on your progress.


          12. I have a Massive Rotator Cuff Tear and I see some of you have had the same thing happen to You, my big problem is which Doctor to choose, anyone want to recommend theirs?? I live in the Red Bluff Area,

      2. Hi, you are a bit ahead of me in the recovery process so I’m interested in how the progress is going forward. I’m still sleeping in a chair and that has been fine as I’m at the 5 week mark. I’m doing PT 2-3 times per week and 3-4 times a day while at home. My issues is the more I do the PT drills the more pain I introduce. I’m not taking any pain killers of any kind and I’m confident this will all turn out well in the long run.

        How are you doing,any advice or guidance?

    2. YES, you will need help if this is a little messy it’s because I just had rotator cuff surgery with 4 Rod’s put in my arm I forgot the proper name for them but when I went into surgery on June 16th they put a block in my shoulder so I wouldn’t have pain that day when I was recovering all I did was numb my hand really super bad and it drove me crazy having that numbness for almost a day when the numbness went away I discovered that I still have some tingling in my fingers I have numbness on the side of my breast and underneath my armpit on the right side and I’m hoping that that will go away it’s been 11 days now!!!!!! I can’t type well so I’m talking into this so there may be some typos but my experience might have been different than other people I was in excruciating pain the day after my surgery and was taken to the emergency room where they’re coming up with all sorts of different drugs didn’t really help me and I had to deal with the pain until it subsided a few days later but I still have pain everyday it’s more like a soreness feeling it’s hard for me to sleep so I take Vicodin everyday I try to only take two because I don’t want to become addicted and the acetaminophen is also bad for.Iff you are alone you will need to see if they can get somebody to come in a CNA or somebody to help you I am here and my son and his friend have been helping me but they can’t be here forever and I’ve already had some mishaps with drinks spilling and me grabbing it and then tweaking my arm so if I were you I would try to get somebody in there for you before you go and proceed with the surgery it’s not a laughing matter!!!! I just am one that did not have a good experience I start my physical therapy tomorrow and I was told it will be very painful so I’m a little paranoid but I’m going to do the best I can I just hope I’m not going to have to rely on more pain pills 2 times a day is enough good luck to you but if I were you I would see if somehow you can get a visiting nurse or CNA or one of your friends to come help you because it’s very difficult not being able to use one of your arms and to get food ready for you to get showered and all the activities of daily living are going to be very hard for you! Good luck to you and sorry that there weren’t any periods or commas but I’m talking into this thing it’s just too hard to type!!!

  2. Janet,
    Yes, I was able to manage taking the sling on and off – although it’s tricky! Hard to describe – but you’ll figure it out. Hardest part is getting it back on.
    My recovery has been progressing just great – I couldn’t be happier. Good luck with your surgery and recover!

    1. i had my surgery 5 days ago and would love to straighten my elbow, use a wash cloth but cannot move out of the sling without great pain.
      i live alone and the sling fastens in the back? any ideas?

      1. Dear Bette

        Don’t do anything alone, ask your doctor when you can do pendulum movements and have someone show you. Ask questions, write them down as you think of them. Take your pain meds. I am 22 days out and the first week was the worst, it gets better. It is important to follow directions and be patient, you don’t want ton do this twice! Get friends to come over.

        Praying for you!

  3. Scott,
    I have been told I need rotator cuff surgery. I’m still trying to figure out if I want to go ahead or wait. Did the surgery work for you? Are you happy with the way things went? My doctor says not to wait more than 18 months. I’m trying to figure it out if it would be better to have it done in the summer or winter. I live in desert country. Temps this week above 100 degrees. I would appreciate any wisdom you could give me. Thanks, Mary

    1. mary – i had shoulder surgery 12 days ago. do it, don’t put it off! i found this site three days before my surgery and almost postponed it because of how many people post with a negative experience. it was freaking me out. but time moves fast in life. i thought about how happy i’ll be this summer that i took care of it at the end of winter. yes, there is pain but if you use a mobilizer instead of a sling, it will hold your shoulder in the proper position. once you train yourself to keep it from moving there is a lot fewer bouts with pain.
      i had some fears about lack of sleep but i have averaged four to six hours straight before pain wakes me up. i take some over the counter meds, stay up for an hour or two, and go back to sleep for three or four more hours. i have always been good about creating a thought in mt mind of a peaceful place that i’d like to be sleeping in then think about it until i am at peace and go to sleep.
      i tend to always find the good in whatever my circumstance, so i think about people that are missing limbs yet live very full lives. this will pass. i should be able to find ways to take care of myself and make it through this temporary hardship.
      you can do this. prep your mind for it. think about the end result….and believe that regardless of the situation, find something good and positive to do with your time. this will take your mind off the negatives.

      1. I’m at the six week mark and making solid progress. I had a couple of screws inserted and all of the stitches that go with it. I have not been taking any meds so I endure the constant dull pain.

        I’ve been in rehab constantly since surgery. 2-3 times per week and 3-4 times per day at home. The rehab adds lots of pain to the process so I’m constantly adding ice packs. I’m sleeping in recliner still as it provides the greatest relief and do get a reasonable nights sleep. Based on all of the reading on this process it sounds like a very long road.

        I have a motorized chair at home that stretches the arm as part of the process. This is a real blessing as I can mark and measure progress as I gain greater flexibility. However, these workouts create new bouts of pain to be dealt with. It does seem that every day it gets a wee bit better. I’m told by other golfers this can be a six month process.

        While I live in Ga where the weather has been very nice of late, today is cold and wet and my shoulder ache’s like crazy.

        I’m optimistic that all of this will pass and every day will be a better one……..just don’t screw up the recovery.

        My reward for showing progress is to allow myself to do some one handed putting.

        Good luck, Dudley Murphy

      2. Hi Todd,

        Thanks for the positive outlook. How is your recovery to date?
        My surgery is scheduled for June 18th – moved up from January 2014. I couldn’t be happier.
        I live alone and new to my community so I’m reaching out for assistance and filling my freezer with great food.
        I will treat this as a vacation and look forward to some time off this summer.
        I look forward to resuming my passions – skiing, golf and yoga….all in time.
        All the best.

      3. Good morning, Todd
        Not sure if my original email went through.
        Thank you for your words of encouragement. It truly is the power of positive thought that gets us through the most difficult situations.
        How is your recovery to date?
        I will have arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder on June 18th. The surgery was moved up from January 2014 so I am thrilled to go through this during the summer months. I live in Central Ontario Canada.
        I live alone and I’m in a new city at a new job so I’m enlisting all the assistance I can. I’ve discovered how eager people are to help. The local minister has organized food etc for me and I don’t even attend her Church. This injury has opened up so many doors for me and I’ve met people I never would have had the pleasure to know.
        I’m busy getting my little cottage prepared for left handed use and I’ve walked around in a sling for the past two days to figure out my greatest needs. Recovering on the water surrounded by nature and sunshine will definitely keep my spirits high.
        I know the road will be tougher than I think but it isn’t forever and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be fixed and live life to its fullest.
        My goal is to spend my 50th birthday in January 2014 skiing in Italy – I have 7 months….
        Thanks again for seeing the goodness in life.


      4. I had shoulder replacement on June 4th. One month later, I fell tearing my rotator cuff. Will have surgery next Tuesday. Your posts have helped me mentally prepare. Thanks.

        1. Karen,

          Oh my word! A double whammy. I’m so sorry. My warmest thoughts for a smooth surgery and un-eventful recovery.


          1. I had Rotator cuff and bicep tendon repair early January 2015, I too debated about having the surgery after reading blogs, etc…but I had it done and have had no problems. Therapy started 6 weeks after surgery, the therapist said to stop any movement if painful which was fine with me. The first 3 months were slow and then my healing took off. By June I was golfing 3 times a week with a modified swing. Being 73 years, I’m grateful I had the surgery and that the surgeon and therapist did not believe in pushing through pain and 6 months after was back to about 90%.

          2. Good for you, Leslie! I have an 87 year old friend who had rotator cuff surgery this June & is recovering remarkably well. I couldn’t believe she would opt for the surgery at her age, but she wanted it done so she could drive again. She had fallen on ice while delivering meals on wheels back in March, so workman’s comp. paid for the surgery. She is extraordinary!

            Also, Brenda, how are you doing? I remember that you were not happy with your results from 2 years ago. I, too, had rotator cuff surgery 2 years ago in June and have some pain in the area nearly every day. I have good range of motion. Don’t know if the pain is because of the surgery or not. I’m 59 years old. Haven’t talked to the surgeon since August 2013 but don’t think he would be any help now, unless the pain gets worse (it’s just 1-2 on a scale of 10).

  4. I just had it done about 3 weeks back and its terrible.. The sleeping and not being able to move your arm for a full month is no joke..Be mentally prepared for it as i wasnt..

  5. I’m getting ready to have it done November 10, 2010. My MRI didn’t show a torn rotator cuff but you never know. It did show inflamed rotator cuff, frayed labrum, a bone spur causing an impingement and last but certainly not least, arthritis in my clavicle. I’m not worried about the surgery but I am very concerned about the recovery and rehab.

  6. I had my left rotator cuff repaired (it was completely torn) bursistis cleaned up & a bone spur removed April 8, 2011. I wore the sling for 5 weeks & now I’m into my 15th week of 3 times a week physical therapy & I’m hoping it will soon be coming to an end even though I still have pain its just a different kind of pain & let me tell you I slept in a recliner for 8 weeks – I’m in bed now but still can’t even lay on my left side because its to pain. I wouldn’t wish this surgery on my enemy!! Good luck to whoever has to have this done – That’s all I can say!!!

  7. I am schduled for rotator cuff surgery next week. After researching the surgery thoroughly, I am beginning to wonder if I should have it. MRI showed one tendon
    “hanging by a thread.” Have dull ache, lifting it certain ways cause sharp pain, but
    I think I can live with this. I am a 66 year old woman with diabetes. Any thoughts
    on whether the benefits warrant this surgery at my age?

    1. phyliss,

      2 weeks ago i had a complete tear in my right shoulder repaired (which was hanging by a thread), as well as re-attachment of the bicep tendon which was shredded. i will say this much.. being 35 years old, and having a job working in a warehouse and being a weightlifter for over 15 years (more than likely the reason for the bad shoulder to begin with) i felt having the surgery was the only option for me if i wanted to have some kind of a chance of resuming my life as it was. my job got nearly impossible to do, and i could no longer stay on a weight training routine. i knew what i was getting into and dreaded the recovery..

      so just saying that i would have done without surgery if i wasn’t so active, so how it effects your day to day is something to consider. for me, i could sleep with the injury just fine, but mowing the grass, working on my cars, home repairs, my job, and working out got impossible for me to do, so i did what i felt i had to do. now i’m 2 weeks post op, its been a nightmare, i start PT soon.. still can’t sleep more than 3 or 4 hours a night.. i can’t get comfortable yet. sling comes off in 4 weeks, PT is gonna be tough, doc already worked on ROM a few days ago so i got a taste of that, and it hurts. may return to work in 4 to 6 months, doc says it will take a year to get back to normal, and i still may never be the same again. still, i have no regrets (SO FAR..) , i’m looking to the light at the end of the tunnel, its pretty far out there right now tho.. 🙂

      1. I just had rotater cuff surgery on February 14,2013.I had several bone spurs.a torn tendona large spur that was cutting into the tendon,a very bad artritis.and joints that needed work.
        I had a pain pump for about 72 hours and one pain Med. After the pump was done.

        I still needed more help with pain. So another pain Med was called in for me and I am alternating them every 3 hours. Should only need to do this for another 72 hours. Hopefully. I find it very hard to take care of personal needs by myself, coming my hair and putting it up in rubber band or clip is impossable. Etc opening things etc. I am glad I have family to help me.

        1. Just had my surgery last Friday, feb 15. Pain pump ran out sat, not sun like it should. I have never been in such pain in my whole life. I am not sleeping thru the night, waking up a lot. Started therapy on mon, feb 18. Seems early compared to some on this site. Pt is happy with my reach so far, but after I really have to ice down. Anyone that starts pt, remember to take your pain meds before. I get my stitches out this fri, feb22. I hope to get a refill on pres, hope they don’t give me a problem. I hate this sling, so uncomfortable. Overall, just wish I could get thru this first week and hope to feel better soon! 49 and I really need my late mother and father. She went thru 2 shoulder replacements and 2 knee replacements. I didn’t realize what she went thru. I know she didn’t have rotator cuff surgery but I know she went thru a lot and I wish I could talk to her. Sorry, feeling sorry for myself. Please send me prayers as I sent out to all of you.

          1. praying sharon 2/18 i went in finally able to sit and update never felt pain like this before, was actually shaking uncontrolably and crying when block wore off after 8 hours. the doc ordered hydromorphone which only made me sick so now I am on oxycodone every 3 hours. ice. making this tolerable. Actually had a pain free hour yesterday morning after taking aspirin. Last night I slept for 2 hours at a shot. Great improvement over 20 minute naps. Wondering if there is such a thing as a comfortable position. Learning what it means to pray without ceasing

    2. I see you posted this comment a year ago and I’m wondering what you decided and how you are. I am your age and alone and very concerned about the helplessness of being without use of arm during first weeks of recovery.

      1. I had my shoulder repair done 3 weeks ago for a torn tendon. I am 55 years old and injured mine on the job. I need to
        go back to work as a flight attendant so I didn’t have a choice on the surgery.
        It has been a long three weeks. Make sure you have help at home. My surgery was in my dominant hand so even now I can’t shower by myself. I don’t have the mobility or strength to pour shampoo from the container. Cooking is difficult but manageable and I can now dress myself. The first two weeks I needed help to dress myself. Sleeping is the worst with the sling. I sleep on the couch half the night, then the recliner the rest – usually 3 hrs at a time. I started physical therapy last week and, although it hurts like heck, my range of motion is really improving already. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and I am very glad I did the surgery and hope to be pain free and return to work by next spring. Good luck!

          1. I you tighten the strap that goes round your chest it takes the weight off the neck one. Just like a pack strap does. I am 8 weeks out now since the op and I am improving daily with movement and capabilities . Still on Panodeine 100mg and Tramidol 50mg (TML)(NZ) 4-6hrly and differs each day I am about to go back to work hopefully in 2 weeks. The pain is still worse at night, my surgeon said this is quite normal and can differ in all people no one is alike.

        1. I have never posted Ina blog before so I’m unclear who this exactly goes out to. I had rotator cuff surgery 5 days ago and I’m writing this from a reclining chair (can’t sleep on my back yet ) … Off the pain meds , they were great for the first 48 hours but after that they made me sick, looking forward to being able to sleep through the night! It is very helpful to read other people’s experiences, thank you!

          1. How are u now? I had my surgery last Friday, I am miserable. Hoping ever day is better. Started pt on Monday, went yesterday and have one scheduled tomorrow. That should be all this week. Stitches come out Friday, not looking forward to that. You are a couple days ahead of me, please tell me it gets better. Sharon

    3. Phyliss, i would be very afraid of dislocation or nerve problems if it’s only “hanging on by a thread”. I’m 65 and had surgery Dec. 5th. Mine was a “massive” tear. Not to scare you but this was 4x harder than I thought it would be. I had poor support from my kaiser Dr. and for about 3 weeks I was only sleeping 3 to 4 hours in 24. It hurt very badly all the time except during the 1st couple hours of oxycodone. For a while I was taking 12) 5 mg. in 24 hours. I got very crazy from the pain and sleep loss. I wasn’t going to hurt myself or anything like that but I couldn’t complete a suduko, read a paragraph or reply to e-mail. I had a wonderful wife at home in the evenings to help. I was just very dis-functional. Putting shoes and sock on before undies, working from 4 Christmas lists, tipping $72. on a $32. tab. Who knows what else. I strictly followed the Dr’s advice, he was worthless but the nurses helped a lot. I basically had to sit up on the couch all night as there wasn’t any position that didn’t really pulse and hurt after about 10 minutes. So why the horror story, I’m now having great progress, just a small ache sometimes and I actually like my therapy exercises. Now I’m glad I did this and believe I’ll be 100% soon. Most importantly, I have talked to and read about very many people who breezed through this. I hope your one of them. Get well!

  8. Feeling your pain. 7 days post op left shoulder. Miss sleeping on that side. The recliner is my friend. Pain meds made me very sick I was glad to get off them. Still a headache and not feeling all there yet. My bandage was too thick and I could not get shoulder iced for first 48 :(. Better now with it off. I get my stitches out tomorrow, not sure if that is good or bad. Met lots who have survived this most say be sure to do PT as directed is important. Take care and feel free to email if you want to commiserate.

  9. Scott/All,

    It’s 3:21 am, January 2, 2012 in NYC and have yet to get a wink of sleep tonight. I had rotator cuff surgery December 29th – the first night after surgery was horrendous. Before the pain block in my arm (left shoulder btw) subsided I was taking the suggested two Percocet every four hours – the pain won. The Percocet was no match for the pain I endured that evening/night. That morning I requested Vicodin – I preceded to take the one Vicodin every 6 hours with better results – after three pills and one trippy reaction I though at least during he day I could abstain from the the pain pills all together – and taking more infrequent 1/2 Vicoden at night. This is my fourth night and the pain I can somewhat live with without the aid of medication, but this sling/torture apparatus is going to kill me. I give it an average mark during the day, but at night it is a whole different story – my is designed in the front with this buckle the attaches one strap to another and digs right into the center of my chest, which again is some what bearable during the day (with a sock wrapped around it), but at night it’s like this blunt instrument digging into my chest all night. The back of the sling has this very large pad that is designed to just past your neck (where you really need it) to partway down your back – it should be removable, but it is not and it gouges in your back when you lie on it. Last night was my fourth night after surgery and I tried a Xanax to relax me before bedtime – a stick of gum would have done more. I might try Ambian tomorrow evening, because these sleepless nights are killing me. Thank god I live alone, because this would be a relationship killer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated…


    1. Hi Joe, I hope you are doing better. I have to tell you I was literally on the Gurney this morning with the anesthesiologist ready to go and the surgeon there by my side to do my rotator cuff repair when I said “I can’t go through with this” . I had been having second thoughts and the anxiety got the best of me at the very last second. I’m not sure if your post helped me or not because in a few months you might be saying I’m glad I went through with it and I’ll still be feeling my aches and pains. The truth is I really feared screwing it up again somewhere down the line because I have no patience and to be honest I really had no idea exactly what the recovery process would be until about three weeks ago although I knew it might be long. My other shoulder started bothering me not to long ago and I have a strong feeling putting the complete burden on my free arm would blow it out as well and then I’d be stuck with no arms .
      I just found this site and not sure it would have helped or not although reading yours would have definitely not helped matters much because I know I would going through exactly what you are and maybe worse because my back is a mess too not to mention my neck etc etc..
      anyway check in because it might help both of us seeing as I will be on a roller coaster on and off with regret or relief.

    2. I was so discombobulated from the lack of sleep, drugs and pain that I went 2 weeks with a buckle right in the middle of my clavicle. It hurt even if I wasn’t lying on it. I finally got in the ball park enough to simply change some straps and buckles so they didn’t grind into me. One $.75 plastic buckle did it. I wish you the best. I hope the idiot who devised this has to wear one on each arm until hell freezes over.

  10. I had rotator cuff surgery in May 2010 for a full-thickness u-shaped tear with retraction. I ended up with five anchors. The recovery is tough, for sure, and slower than I expected. I will say that what helped me most both with physical pain and mood was movement. Exercise. Get up and walk. Ride a spin bike. I found that getting the blood moving was the best medicine. Now 19 months out, I am very glad that I had the surgery.

    1. Surgery in three weeks. Really glad I scrolled through these posts long enough to read yours. Do you run? If so, when were you able to run post op? Briskly walk?

      1. Penny,

        Good luck with your surgery! You’ll get through it just fine, I’m sure.

        I’m no runner – but I do enjoy walking – and walking for me wasn’t a problem beginning a week or so after surgery. You certainly need to be careful – about tripping/falling and catching yourself.

        My doc drilled into my head that I just could not afford to fall. I just couldn’t let that happen – he said! So pick your walking courses carefully with that primary consideration in mind!


      2. Hi Penny,

        I’m 54 years old and an avid cyclist, snow/water skier. In fact, it was a nasty bike crash that did my shoulder under. I had surgery 8 days ago and was excited to go for a 2 mile brisk walk today. Felt great! Hope to be on a stationary bike in a couple of months depending on how PT goes. Scott’s advice on being very careful is spot on.

        My experience after surgery:
        – Slept on recliner first 3 nights.
        – Ice machine is a must every 2 hours for 20 minutes as recommended by Doctor.
        – Set an alarm to keep up with pain meds. Make sure to eat snack with meds.
        – Was able to shower 3 days after surgery. Bought cheap sling to use in shower.
        – Bought hair dryer stand from Target online $12. Huge help!
        – I was off of pain meds by 4th day but keep in mind everyone is different.
        – Taking 3 Advil once a day now.
        – Will be in sling 4 weeks, which is a necessary evil.
        – I work from home that entails computer work and returned to work 6 days after surgery. Really should have waited one more day.

        I know it’s a long rode to recovery but looking forward to feeling much better and enjoying life pain free . Good luck with your surgery!


        1. Had my surgery for a hole in my tendon and damaged rotator cuff on dec.18, 2012. Horrendous but had to be done. I sleep sitting up. A dull pain/ache after 3 weeks. Pain meds at night. Looking for light at end of tunnel. Can’t sleep with sling. I prop a pillow under my arm and sleep sitting up. Scared to start therapy. Feels like I will never be able to move my arm ever again. Like I said…looking for light at end of tunnel.

          1. nobody has mentioned the cpm chair, when you have a repair (stiches), it is not recommended you start therapy for 3-4 weeks, i started the cpm therapy the next day, i went to a sports medicine dr. where there are about 15 ortho dr. this is what they use, its awesome! it takes the pressure off your muscles so you heal faster and gets you ready for therapy, my surgery was feb. 1 2013, had my other shoulder done 5 years ago, just know more this time, you need to take your arm out of the sling a few times a day right away, the less you move your arm the worst off you will be! by week 2 i only have it on to sleep, or if i leave the house.

        2. I’ve had the Xrays, shown a bone spur, had the MRI earler in the week. My pain is not terrible, an announce so I wondering if the surgery is worth it. I’m 69, a runner and golfer with no other maladies.

          I’m thinking the IBPropin or other over the counter drugs are a great alternative?

          The rehap soulds long and painful and I wont be able to do the normal stuff.

          I’m in Columbus Ga for what that counts

          1. Dear Dudley
            We all have to make these choices, this is a great place to get some insight. I am 2 weeks post-op today, for superspiadus repair 1 x 2 cm and bone spur removal. The 2 nights before my surgery I had the most pain since my injury 11 months ago. I knew that night I had made the right choice to have the surgery. I have less pain today doing PT to regain flexability than before the surgery for sure!
            I believe my bone spur was part of the cause for the tear. Ask your Doctor about your tendon’s condition and if the bone spur may cause you more pain over time? You may be better off in the long run getting rid of the Spur now and you recovery will be easier than Spur and Tendon repair. I am 61 and hope to golf next year! Good Luck to you! God Bless Dr. Hubbell ! Ask 2 Doctors

          2. Hey Dudley, all I can tell you is that I was living on Ibuprophen for the past few years when my shoulder would flare up. I chalked it up to getting older, but I should have had it looked at. The surgeon told me I only have a 40% success rate now because the Supraspinatus receded over all that time. If I had known 5 years ago, I could have a better outcome, I probably would have done it. Now I will never be able to pull the string to start my weed whacker, lawn mower, etc. Both the first and second opinions I got agreed 🙁 So I would recommend you talk to the surgeon, get a second opinion, and weigh if it’s worth it or not. Basically, mine will not get better without surgery, it will only get worse, and at this point I can’t even lift a text book without pain. Good luck 🙂

          3. Well, I bit the bullet and had the surgery on 2/26 so I’m 10 days out of surgery and feeling very lucky. The first night was in the hospital where I learned the meds certainly killed the pain but also any sense of balance. I left looking like the town drunk and have not had a pill of any kind sense.

            Like many others I’m in a recliner which is working really well. 3 days after surgery the stitches were removed and I was off to rehab which will go on for an extended period. The exercises for the first 4 weeks are mostly passive with low impact stretching. I also have one of the motorized chairs that raises the arm as a stretching exercise 3-4 times daily. I’ts an awesome recovery tool that I would recommend. The rehab guy’s and gals at St. Francis here in Columbus have an amazing program and I’m fortunate to be a part of it.

            I’m using ice as often as possible and the surgeons really recommend this process. I’m feeling fortunate given the lack of pain in rehab but equally frustrated by the length of the recovery, Looking forward to 70 degrees and being able to get out over the weekend.

            Good luck to everyone, Dudley

        3. Michele, Scott and many others,
          Thank you for the great ideas … Hair dryer Stan’s ? Who knew!!! And I’m feeling very housebound so getting out to walk is a great idea , I’m scared I’ll fall though and do not want to go through this ever again!!!
          Exercise bike sounds like a great idea!
          Thank you very much!

        4. Hi Michele.
          I found your post to someone named Penny. That is also my name. I am due to have surgery in 3 weeks and after reading most posts I was thinking of backing out. But your post is very encouraging to me. I am healthy, active, and love to walk. I feel much better after reading your post and hope my recovery experience will be as positive as yours. I have printed off your post to put on my wall for encouragement.

          Many blessings.
          Penny A

        5. Michelle, your info is helpful. My rotator cuff surgery is 2/13/17.
          Pain meds make me nauseous and dizzy but will do what I have to. Had some info that ice machine is helpful so I plan on using one. My concern is my Dr’s nurse said the Dr. only suggests them for knee surgery. I’m getting one anyway hoping it can reduce pain meds somewhat… would feel better if Dr. was more supportive about it.

          1. Hi Barb,
            I’ve never commented on a Blog before but I just started reading thru this blog since I’ve been Googling about rotator cuff surgery experiences. I’m having surgery 3-2-17. Wanted to respond to your ice machine comment. My Dr’s office didn’t mention using one, but I asked about it because everyone raves about them online. I was told they do recommend them but they don’t typically bring it up with patients since most people don’t want to pay for one.
            I bought mine this week and I think it will be a lot easier than replacing ice packs.
            Best of luck with your surgery on Monday!!! -Amy

  11. P.S. thanks Scott for your website . It was more helpful than all the second hand information I’ve been getting . Still not sure what to do though.

    1. Mark, thanks – and thanks for sharing your experience this morning.

      FYI, the first time I went in for my rotator cuff surgery, my anesthesiologist was concerned about my blood pressure that morning and decided to cancel the surgery. Not at all my choice – I just wanted to be done. Everything clicked the second time around (different surgeon, different anesthesiologist!).

      I’m so glad I did it as my shoulder is in great shape – yet now, looking back on it, I marvel that I got through it all – the post-surgery pain/meds, six weeks in the sling, not driving, etc. Somehow you adapt…

      1. Your welcome Scott.
        Because I am a side sleeper I was in bed the last few nights trying to sleep on my back or in a more upright position and that alone gave me a stiff neck and back so the thought of all that extra shoulder pain scared the cr@# out of me . I have literally been unable to sleep that way since I am one of those people that use to spend a lot of time in my recliner and it ended up wrecking my back and neck which have never been the same since.
        I probably sound like a man child about it but after 47 years I know my body so well that the thought of having to sleep that way for several weeks alone was unbearable compiled with Joes description….Yikes!

        My big question is what now?. I am not in a great deal of pain and can function pretty well if I avoid doing something really stupid but a tear is a tear and probably will only get worse.

        If anyone out there has tried anything alternative that helped by all means let me know.

        If I end up having to do it I will definitely keep a video journal.

        1. i “had ” greater than 50% tear in superspinatis and fixed myself after consuting w/ my chiroprator, using ice 20 min on 20 min off all day night (as posible) all good after maybe month or 2 ? happy

        2. Mark, it maybe too late to help you but after suffering horribly for 3 weeks, lots of oxycodone, no real sleep, my son gave me a medical marijuana brownie. This was a huge help, it made my pain killers seem to totally handle everything, it was a savior, allowing me to sleep a couple of hours..
          Good luck.

      2. Hi Scott, I noticed you said in your post “different surgeon, different anesthesiologist” . Were you uncomfortable with the first surgeon and is that why your blood pressure went up?

        1. Mark, as it turned out the first surgeon decided my case wasn’t his cup of tea after this incident.

          Frankly, this worked out for the best because I ended up with the best surgeon possible for my second (and very successful) surgery!

          1. Your first surgeon sounds like he has no scrupples but glad you found someone better . I scheduled a follow up with my surgeon but he will probably feel the same way about me bailing on him . I have looked into getting a second opinion just in case .
            I was even reading about new technology that uses stem cells of your own and injects them back into your rotator cuff. We’ll see.

      3. Hi Scott,
        I hope you are feeling well again.
        Thank you for creating this forum. My surgery date is June 18th and I’m gathering as much information as possible. Living alone in a new city makes this a real interesting experience. I appreciate all the good advice and words of encouragement.
        A tough trip and fall has lead to a really rough year. I look forward to toughing it out and having a full recovery.
        All the best.


        1. Hi Colleen,
          My surgery date is June 17th, so it looks like we will be going through the same stages of recovery together. It sounds like you injured your shoulder in a fall? Not sure how I hurt mine; just wear and tear through the years, I think. What is the extent of your injuries (complete rotator cuff tear?). I will be lucky enough to have my Mom come to help me for the first couple of weeks, but other than that, I will be on my own as well. I’m trying to be creative in coming up with ways to deal with life while being able to use just one arm for at least 6 weeks. My right (dominant) arm is the one that needs repairing, of course!
          This has been a wonderfully helpful site for me in finding advice and tips on how to deal with the recovery! (Thanks, Scott!!)
          I check this site pretty regularly, so feel free to reply back – maybe we can help each other out a bit.

          1. Hi Colleen and Rene

            July 24, 2013 was day of surgery for me, repairing full supraspinitus tear, tacking my bicep tendon, and shaving my acromion bone. This site helped me know what to expect post surgery and prepare better. Like you, I live alone, and needed caregivers. I patched together care for much of the first month, and now that I’m through the first three days, I’m glad. The ice cooling machine is a lifesaver. Sick of sleeping in a recliner, but I had a decent night’s rest my third night, so I can get used to that. I’m off strong pain meds fourth day; my head is clear. I feel like impatience is my strongest enemy, but getting transportation once my guest caregivers leave scares me the most. I applied for my community’s subsidized transit for handicapped folks. Luckily, my handicap is temporary, yet they approved me for the time I can’t drive. I start PT in a month, after everybody leaves, so thank God I lined something up. My question is, when do people start driving? I don’t want to have a reflex action while driving with one arm that could tear the repair. I’m being super cautious, figuring I may not drive for three months. What would you do?

  12. At age 59, I am facing this surgery with a tear that is considered “severe” according to my MRI. I so dread this, but have suffered with this since last April. After going thru 2 rounds of PT for a diagnosis of frozen shoulder, my therapist said I was presenting more like it was a rotator tear….sure enough, the therapist was right. My husband went thru the same surgery 3 years ago and did great. Typical recovery, sling, etc. but according to everyone….a speedy recovery. My greatest fear is the after surgery pain. We read all the time about how doctors are reluctant to give pain meds now, but I have never abused drugs and I don’t want to experience ungodly pain. Thoughts? Is it seriously that horrible?

    1. How long did your husband take before he was doing normal activity? . He’s probably your best advocate because I keep hearing about nightmare experiences aside from Scott who had a positive experience . I am still on the fence about getting it myself.

      1. Mark,
        I may have missed the specifics of your shoulder injury but as I have waited my rotator cuff injuries in both arms have only gotten worse. The tear in my left shoulder has gotten worse since my MRI because my ROM has decreased dramatically. My right shoulder is getting bad because it has been taking up the slack from the left arm. I wish I would have known about my problem a long time ago because the earlier you fix it the better the outcome. I plan to get the surgery because I have no choice because the pain is so bad. I am depressed because I think I will end up disabled because I do not believe the surgery will be successful for me for many reasons. I have done a lot of research and one thing is clear..get the surgery early. The main reason is because when the muscles are torn and lack blood supply they turn into fat. If the mucslce is fat then imagine trying to repair fatty tissue either back to the bone are connect fatty tissue in general. Healing will be a huge problem and it could fail again. One thing that helps with pain is a cold therapy system. I have read that it is a life saver for many who have used the system. I am looking at several. Your insurance may provide one but I plan to buy my own because I don’t know how long the insurance company will let me keep it and i will need it for both shoulders. I am also looking into vitamin packages etc that aid in healing..which i will discuss with a doctor. I also did a lot of research on doctors an if you goggle “67 shoulder Surgeons and Specialist to Know” you will get a list of some of the best ortho surgeons in the country. Just, if possible, find one that is closest to you and if one is not in your area, call or email and ask them if they know who to recommend in your area.

    2. Hello, I reccomend you to go ahead and have it done, I had a motorcycle accident and torn my rotator cuff, the MRI showed a large tear and I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my head, my doctor said it was imperative to have the surgery, and it took me 2 months to decide, mostly because I was afraid of the pain, because most of the people was telling me it was a paintfull surgery, am at my fifth week and the pain only lasted for about 3 days, all you have to do is to take your pain medicine as instructed, everything is going well, I wish you the best and hopefully if you decide to go for the surgery, everything comes right for a life in pain is a life of frustation, best of luck, and God bless you all.

      1. I am allerigic to all – codine, vicodine, you name it. I can take tramadol…like eating M&ms IMO. I would like to know more about an ICE MACHINE after surgury??? Never heard of this one. Ice and heat are always my go to’s for pain. My husband is 94 yrs old and I am 63 yrs old. I hate to think what this recovery is going to DO TO HIM! He is an awsome caregiver!! He will keep me comfortable and take care of him self…only thing he doesn’t do is COOK and Laundry. My surgery is scheduled for DEC 6th, 2012. Any advice is welcome.

        1. Once they give you the nerve won’t feel a thing until the day after the surgery.when the nerve blocker wears off. But once you start taking your painkillers you will be fine…..good luck

        2. BrandyMC,

          I just had surgery last week. We rented the ice machine and what a lifesaver! We were so impressed that we just bought one since my husband and I are activ/middle age and sprains, strains and ice are part of life. Besides, this is a long slow process, I expect to be icing on and off for the next 6 months. The machine is basically a little ice chest with a water pump and a pad that fits your shoulder. It does a great job on pain and swelling without the dripping, hassle,and mess of ice bags. It was $50/week rental or 155. to buy. The first 4 days were very painful once the nerve block wore off but then its steadily improved since then. Icing has way cut down on the need for meds and i really think it helps healing. Here’s a couple tips if you use one- Have your husband around to hook you up and disconect until you are well enough to manage it yourself. Also, I froze 16 oz water bottles and put 2 of them in the cooler with water instead of ice cubes its much easier to manage. Best of luck, be commited to getting better, and you will. Here’s a link

  13. 5 Weeks out from repair of Labrum (SLAP repair) and rotator cuff as well as removal of calcium and a bone spur. The PT is great stuff, 3x per week (3 days after surgery start) to start and 2x per week now. I should do them at home more but I skip a day here and there. The hardest part is being dependent upon others for small chores like tying shoes or cinching sweat pants, etc. Bathing is also a challenge. Everything takes twice as long. I have a better respect and understanding of what disabled persons go through but for them it is permanent so I feel that I have just the smallest insight really. It has been humbling. I know that it will take 3 months to even be able to start lifting light objects, I must be careful, I DON’T want to go through this again. I had pain meds for 10 days then that was that. Advil and ice are great. I can type and probably have done more than I should with my right hand. Shoulder, triceps, bicep aches from time to time. Passive exercises for one more week then real easy beginning of “active” for a few weeks followed by strength. Have learned to sleep on back and left side only. A wash cloth under the waist strap helps at night. The one thing the PT and surgeon and staff did not do for me was prepare me for activities of daily living. They blew it there. Sit down to pull on your shirt, first over the weak arm. Buy a scrub brush for the shower. Buy a gell pack, large for icing, buy a few really comfy button up shirts and sweat pants. Buy slip on shoes. Share on blogs. It does get better and we had the surgery because we were miserable before and wanted the rest of our lives without that pain even if it does take a year to fully heal. Don’t wait too long, it get worse in the joint, I waited too long. The older you are the slower the heal especiall past 50, I am 52. I am also pretty sure I will never do heavy weights again, not worth the risk. Don’t do bar dips, or pull downs behind the head. Heavy stress on the joint is insane unless you are a trained athlete. Jui Jitsu and joint locks in martial arts cause these types of rips and tears as well. Using the bench press is risky, I prefer dumbells when I can get back to it in 10 months. Be patient with yourself and hang in there, it really does take time. Maybe 30 years from now there will be an easier way but at least we have arthroscopy and skilled surgeons and remarkable physical therapists. Thank you and wish me luck. George G.

    1. George, What great advice! I am three weeks out and honestly I only had pain for a day or two after the nerve block wore off on the second day. What pain I have now, is just a reminder not to push myself too much initially.

      I heartily agree that the most challenging things are to not do too much, too soon, and to deal with daily living issues like dressing, showering, and as I am a mother of a daughter in a wheelchair, being a caregiver… I want to do all the things I did before for my family. It is indeed humbling, and my daughter smiles this knowing smile and points out that the frustrations I live with now, will go away one day while hers will not… that keeps it real for me!


    2. George, you’ve got it exactly right. I am 6 wks post supraspinatus repair + bone spur removal + frayed tendon cleanup. I’ve never felt like I experienced much more pain than the original problem caused me. I took oxycodone for a week, then stopped all pain meds. Since my surgery center gave me NO useful written information about how very much I should be respecting the repair, and not pushing too fast, I am sure I overdid it a little at first. I gradually got more conservative as I read more and more good sources of information online. Thank god for the internet – except for one thing. I read hundreds of horror stories from people that had rotator cuff surgery, and I was really concerned that I was going to be crippled by pain. I know everyone is different, but people, consider the possibility that it may not be that bad for you if you (1) don’t expect it to be completely painless; (2) follow the pain killer regimen; (3) follow advice about sleeping in a recliner; (4) do your pendulums (I always felt better afterward); (5) re-orient your thinking. Why should your life be pain free? It’s just another distraction to ignore; (5) do your PT – I chattered my way through my great PT guy doing the passive stretches, and it always felt better after every time. I’m now starting active assisted and the beginnings of active exercises, and I can feel the shoulder improving a little bit every day. I’m excited!

      Also, if you use your head, think through every move, you can do a lot more than you think you can while wearing a sling. You can still walk, for example, just don’t trip. I resumed sport after 3 weeks, but with my arm carefully protected in the sling, and each movement thought out(arm movement is useful but not crucial in my sport). I figured out ways to get my laundry and groceries where they needed to go, figured out how to continue most of my activities. PT guy tells me that most repair failures are not caused by small, well-considered motions that stop when pain begins, but rather through unguarded reflex actions, like if your spouse slams on the brakes while driving and you tense up in response.

      So after six weeks, I feel like things are going great. Consider the possibility that this is how it could be for you, too.

      1. Thank you for this article, it has given me hope….. I am having the same surgery basically and enjoyed reading your blog more than lots of other….. 15 days till my surgery, been very stressed and worried about depression also….. Pray all goes well

      2. Thanks SO much for your positively helpful post!! I read it before my dominant-arm RC surgery and I’m happy to report that 5-weeks post op and I’m doing amazingly well. I followed your suggestions, did Iceman and good pain management and sailed through weeks 1-4. Started PT in week 5 and was thrilled to see good ROM, although I thought my shoulder was a bit frozen. Taking mild pain med for PT sessions to ensure good progress during first couple of weeks. Ice frequently and doing my exercises at home like a fanatic! Named ‘stations’ for my exercises. So far I have 1) shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls on commode (don’t laugh—think about how often you’re there!?) 2) pendulums every time I open the frig (shoulder socket staying nicely loose here) 3) pulley exercises by the door where I take the puppy out to pee (and it conveniently faces to tv!). More later—so far so good. Keep the faith y’all!

        1. Cindy I am so happy to read this. I am going to have my RC surgery on my dominant arm on May 13. I also have a torn bicep muscle in the shoulder area. I of course I’m not looking forward to it but am looking forward to getting it over with & starting my recovery. Keep up the good work Cindy.

          1. Best of luck to you Betty Lou! You’ll do great. Just focus on positive info that works for you. It’s quite a journey but will be worth it in the end. I was scared to have surgery (my first ever) so told the staff that. Boy, did I get great treatment! Ha ha. Ice therapy machine, good sleep positioning, and proper pain management have been my best support these first 5 weeks. I was SO leery of starting PT but found it helps me feel so much better.

          2. Cindy thanks so much for your positive comments. In the back of my mind I am scared but I keep trying to keep it way back there. I am already looking forward to PT because then I will know I’m getting better …. progress .. yes! I am looking forward to eventually not having the aching/pain all the time in my shoulder & bicep area. Thanks again.

          3. I have been reading for about an hour now and find myself torn between I can do this and how am I going to make it and when can I go back to work? I love my job! I need to get this done, because along with this torn tendon in my shoulder I have both torn and shredding tendons in my right ankle. Don’t know if I can get that brace on one handed. I can’t address my ankle with my arm messed up. I am hoping I can just ignore the references to age, I am turning 68 in a few months. I have been practicing doing things left handed and remember eating with chopsticks left handed two days after my wrist surgery a couple years ago. No knitting? No quilting? bothers me more than fear of pain cause I already have that. May 23, 2013.. three weeks to prepare. I don’t know if my hubby will be home for this, he might get called to work. If so.. worry about opening dog food cans. I am also remembering the lecture I gave my Grandma years ago. “remember how good it felt to help someone else through hard times? Now is your opportunity to let me have that great feeling.” What you say can come back to haunt you.

          4. Ellie I am 65 & will have RC & bicep tendon repair (dominant hand) on the 13th. I’ve known this for 5 or 6 weeks but I opted to go on vacation before I have it done. The pain has slowly gotten worse. Like you I have been practicing doing things with my left hand. Have found I’m a pretty sloppy eater with my left. 🙂 My husband is staying home four days after the surgery to help me. Good luck to you. I look forward to your posts after your surgery. I will post as soon as I can

        2. Thanks Cindy for your uplifting post. I’m day 4 and I want to follow in your footsteps. So far so good. Please keep us posted how rehab is going!

  14. had rotator repair six weeks tomorrow and it has been a rough road. do not feel i was well prepared and have questioned my decision many times but also know i could not live with the limitations. my injury was a result of falling over my shepard while racing to get to a spinning class. it blew out my dailing lap swimming and made it difficult to lift my grandson. with my love and daily need for swimming/exercise and the anticipation of our second grandchild, i reluctantly took the plunge after trying therapy/massage/accupuncture for 6months before deciding.
    it has not been pleasant. the first few weeks were truly terrible-couldn’t eat/sleep/get comfortable at all. started therapy at 5weeks and can’t wait to have more range of motion in my arm. i get to stop using the sling tomorrow-yahoo!!
    i am still taking vicodan and really feel that i need it especially during/after therapy. sleeping is very unpleasant. can’t wait to actually have a nite’s sleep. would like to go back to work now but my work is too demanding and i realize i will only make the recovery longer.
    with all the negativity said, i keep telling myself that this too shall pass and i will be back lapping at 6am very soon. i am a 58yr old woman so age is not really on my side but the fact that i have always been very active is truly in my favor. i have gone for postop acupuncture and intend to begin massage and hopefully a one on one for xigong/tai chi. i know they all make me feel that i am in more control.
    anyone hear anything good about myofaschia therapists for postop treatment. my accupuncturist swears by them.
    well, good luck to all who are anticipating or recovering

  15. I am 3 weeks out from having the tendon sewn back. Doc said it was a nasty tear. I was prepared for a lot of pain based on what a many people said. Really, it was a piece of cake…I think I could have got by with no percocet but was advised to keep ahead of the pain. The sling is a pain but I don’t mind sleeping in a lazy boy. I am 62 years old and injured the shoulder playing raquetball. I am a weatherman on a local news channel and the doc said it was ok to take the arm out of the sling and sort of let it hang as long as I used my good arm to point with. I did this starting a week after the procedure and my viewers have no clue that I am recovering fron surgery. My advice so far is don’t be afraid of it…the thought of enduring pain and not being able to use the arm was scarier than the thought of surgery.

    1. After reading all the scary stories, it was nice to hear from someone whose recovery wasn’t extremely rough. Personally, I’m very frightened and just don’t know how I can deal with the initial post-surgery pain and having to wear a sling for so long. Cannot imagine how I will take care of myself and just do the basic things a person does through the course of their day. Anyway, hearing your positive comments did help.

      1. The post op pain only lasted a day and a half for me, and if you keep ahead of the pain meds, it was not bad for me at all. Afterwards sleep is a issue. I can sleep now, but not well and I stay tired. It does get better each day, but… it isn’t the kind of rest I am used to!

        You will learn how to do basic things to care for yourself, but it would be helpful if you had help for showering the first week, and meals, but if not, just make sure that you have vital things down where you don’t have to reach for them, and don’t plan on lifting much with your good hand (I mean very heavy pots that you normally use your other hand for).

        A slightly funny warning, don’t watch movies that are likely to make you “jump”, that isnt comfortable at all!!

        You can do it!!!

  16. I had keyhole surgery for a three quarter tear of the rotator cuff tendon, a repair on my bicep tendon and to remove some abnormal bone growth on my shoulder blade. This was my right shoulder and I am 8 days post-op.
    I’m normally quite active and love running which I was still able to do right up until the op, despite the injury. I had the surgery because the pain was getting worse and I was suffering by not being able to sleep properly – I just felt fuzzy at work and not on top of things.
    Do I regret having it done? ….. At this right moment YES. I had a complete meltdown last night as i watched my husband changing the bedding – i couldn’t even help. this was after he’d done school lunches, the school run, cleaning, cooking, helped me dress, tied my shoes, helped me take my sling on/off what seemed like a million times, and the list goes on. I cant run! As a normally independent and impatient lady, I feel useless and out of control. I will have my sling on full time for at least 2 more weeks and I need to accept my limitations during this time.
    If my surgery is successful and in 6 or 9 months I have near to full range of motion in my shoulder back, if I can sleep pain free and use a keyboard/mouse for more than 5 minutes without having to rest my shoulder, and if I can look back at this inconvenience that I’m going through at this time and see it as just that, an inconvenience and a necessary step in the healing process, then I will absolutely NOT REGRET this operation.
    Ive read a lot about people’s experiences following this type of surgery, and other than the pain management and sling issues, they seem to differ greatly. This had led me to conclude that this is a very individual process – state of mind probably plays a massive part and I will be putting my energy now into adopting the right attitude to my recovery from now on. If I dont master this sling business then the physio stage won’t be as effective and so it goes on. I don’t want to have this surgery fail and that is going to be my reason for accepting where I am today in my recovery.
    The only other question is where is my husband? … I need him to help me with my sling :0)
    One very last thing – show your loved ones as soon as you can after your op how they can still hug you because they will be afraid they might hurt you.
    Good luck to anyone just about to start their mending journey x

    1. I just had rotator cuff surgery 9 days ago and feel as you do — the limitations in my life are staggering and I do not like people doing things for me, but have found I have no choice. My husband and daughter are very helpful but the thing I feel the most is frustration. I love to play golf, work out, take power walks, garden and generally do whatever activity I want to — now I can do none of the above. Being dependent is not easy for me but I am so grateful for many things. I stopped taking percocet 3 days after the surgery, and have not had a pain killer since. I sleep at night, even with my sling on and am grateful to be back in bed, after sleeping on a lounge chair for two nights. My life has certainly changed but I know it will be worth it and maybe now I will find time to “smell the roses” — at least get caught up on some much needed reading.

      Good luck to you on the road of recovery and I know you will be better than before —

  17. I am facing this surgery soon (haven’t set a date yet). I see people saying they type okay in the sling. I am a computer programmer and can work from home. Is that type as in “work all day at a computer” or is that type as in “send a couple emails?” I know I need to ask these questions of my doctor, but I am just want some anecdotal evidence that I will be able to get back to work (from home) within a couple weeks.

    1. I am able to type quite easily even in the sling as i still have full use of elbow ,wrist and hand after my rotator cuff surgery.
      I just have to be conscious to keep my elbow to shoulder tucked into my body and not move the whole arm to the front or side.
      In fact i often remove the sling when i am sitting at home and rest my arm on my lap. This is much more comfortable for me.
      I am 9 days out from surgery and very pleased with progress and pain free!

      1. I’m scheduled for rotator cuff surgery tomorrow. It’s a partial tear from a fall 8 months ago with the pain getting worse, so I have mixed emotions. I really want it fixed, but I’m scared of the recovery. I’m going to try to focus on the positives I’ve read on this site and will let you know my experience as soon as I can type again. Thanks, everyone, for sharing!

      2. I’m having RC surgery in 2 days and find your comments above removing the sling occasionally very helpful. Keeping the bad arm tucked and supported by my body has become automatic now as a way to deal with pain.

  18. Have left shoulder repair scheduled for August 14 and don’t know if it is helping or just terrifying me to read people’s experiences! Is there anyone who has had total knee replacement or total hip replacement that would care to compare that experience to
    the rotator cuff repair? I have had those replacements and while they were nothing to sneeze at, I handled them well and am glad I had them done. I’m due for this repair two weeks before I return to teaching high school and I’m wondering if I have lost my mind!

    1. Hi , I’ve had a hip replacement , three years ago, and am almost three weeks post op . I had an 80% tear repaired as well as my shoulder blade shaved and ac joint cleared of arthritus. There is no comparison pain wise. The shoulder was much more difficult. For me getting through the first four days was the most difficult. Do your research and find a Dr that specializes in this surgery , use your meds as directed, make sure you get a cold therapy machine , not just ice packs a s they only last 30-45 min. you can slep in a recliner , or as I have done buy a wedge system for your bed. much more comfortable. and put pillows under your arms as well. Painful ? yes , but will be worth it soon.

      1. Having had both the bone shaving for impingement and the rotator cuff done in 2 seperate surgeries this year, i would say the bone shaving was the more painful the first few days and took me 3/4 months until i was able to lie on that shoulder comfotably in bed, however i was back at work & driving within 6 days of the op (i forced myself back to work to aid my mental recovery).
        I also left the hospital without any sling after the bone shaving surgery (the surgeon made a point of removing it from me to encourage motion).
        The rotator cuff tear surgery which i am currently now 13 days out from has been far less painful but far more frustrating due to the 4 weeks of sling use and longer period off work required due to my inability to drive or use the arm.
        I feel better as every day passes and its a short period of inconvenience for what could be years of good health.
        Anyone facing these surgerys needs to perservere and try and maintain a positive outlook as there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

  19. So glad I found this. I am 19 days now since my surgery. Torn rotator cuff, spur, and they lowered my bicept. Too many years of delivering mail. It is reassuring to read that my experiences are not unusual. Pain not bad in the day, miserable trying to sleep. Night time pain and also this annoying sling and pad strapped to you. My only hope of sleeping is on a couch with my back up against the back of the couch. I am very motivated on doing my part with therapy. I ice all the time but the back of my shoulder is still swollen. (Did yours stay swollen?) I never knew how useless you could be with your right arm in a sling. I mean the simple things like tying your own shoes, (ladies) even putting on your own bra! Try to do something so routine like blowdrying your hair or putting on makeup. Pitty partyies would be easy if it weren’t that I have read so many other peoples accounts and they are so similar to mine. I just want to end up with a good result. I think so much about our wounded soldiers and thing that they won’t be ready to go in a few months. Guess I am actually fortunate. Thank you.

  20. Wow, after reading some of these comments I feel like I am doing the right
    thing for now anyway..a few months back I saw my doctor- complaining of
    shoulder pain. he gave me a cortisone shot,which helped for a month or time I saw him he sent mr for an mri…which showed a large full
    thickness tear involving the posterior aspect of proximal supraspinatus tendon
    extending towards the anterior margin of infraspinatus tendon centered at
    12:00 position measuring 12 mm wide x 17 mm AP with greatest oblique dimension
    measuring 21 mm. The distal portion of the supraspinatus tendon is
    hyperintense and irregular consistent with tendinopathy. Small subcortical
    bony cystic degenerative changes are seen at the supraspinatus and and
    infraspinatus footplates. Mild effusion is present with free communication
    into the subacromial-subdeltoid bursa. there is small pointed anterior
    acromial enthesophyte, a potential source of impingement. there is slight
    lateral acromial downsloping without anterior downsloping. A C joint
    arthropathy is present with mild joint space widening, effusion ,with mild
    osteophytic changes and cystic distal clavicular changes… there is a mild
    fissuring of the distal subscapularis tendon. intra -articular biceps
    tendinopathy is present with hyperintensity and mild swelling as it passes
    anterior to the humeral head.there is mild blunting of the posterior
    labral….The doctor wanted me to get a medical clearance as I am 75 years
    old.. and they will not operate without one ..I asked if there were any
    options besides operating..and he said no..the only thing that would help is
    an operation…I asked about physical therapy and he said that would do no
    good…anyhow I am planning on living with the pain for now ..and maybe get a
    second opinion…hope all of you have a safe and not so painful
    adventure…and may God bless you all.

  21. I had my right rotator cuff repaired twice. Once in 1999 as an overnight patient in a hospital, and then again in 2009 (I fell on the same shoulder, but the doc told me it was already in bad shape). The second surgery was arthroscopically done, but unsucessful. So, I am still unable to lift very much weight during weight training classes- particularly for shoulder work. NOW I’m having an issue with my left shoulder! Just had an MRI yesterday and was told I should not workout until I get the results (three days) from my surgeon. Nothing makes you feel worse when something is taken away from you! Ugh, even aerobic exercises require arm movements (step aerobics, and Zumba, for example), and I’m miserable just sitting around! I already know that if I’m told it’s torn, and I’m given a choice between PT and surgery, I will immediately opt for the surgery. I would prefer not to waste weeks on PT and then have to have it. I hope this one’s fixable – it’s killing me!

    1. Well, I had my surgery July 2 – it’s called a massive tear, and now have four screws/anchors in my shoulder. I have hit the 7 week post surgery mark and last week, my physical therapy became more difficult as I am now doing much of the moving. ouch! I still am unable to do any exercise except for walking and using a recumbent bicycle. No treadmill or stationary bikes as I can not hold on to anything and of course, if I lose my balance and fall, that would not be a good thing. I go back to see my doc the day after Labor Day, and am anxious to see where I am in regards to my ability to return to the gym. I miss Zumba and step class. Of course, there’s no weight training for quite a while, but I’ll just be happy to get back to semi-normal activity. I’ve had to cut back on my calories just to keep from gaining weight. ugh.

  22. I had rotator cuff surgery for a massive u shaped tear (surgeons description) April,26 2012 as an overnight patient. I’m now at week 6 and the sling is due to come off at week 8. My pain and expectations and limitations were as described by most people 🙁 but over the past 3-4 days after almost stopping 6hourly panadol, the pain has become worse than at any stage since the op. Has this happened to anyone else, or is this a sign that I’ve done somehow done some more damage 🙁 I feel even more exhausted worrying about this. I should ring the surgeon but I’m frightened of his response. I’m 62 female with great family support but……. Any advice would be appreciated. 🙂

    1. I am sorry that I have no advice. I’m your age and my heart goes out to you. My best friend had knee surgery that isn’t healing as it should. She also has a great family that helps her, but they can’t stop the pain or worry. God bless you, and may He bring you comfort and healing and diminish your pain.

    2. Sue, I am 63 and am 8 weeks out. Just when I was due to come out of the sling,(6 weeks) boy I thought my arm was great. Then when they removed the sling my arm met gravity again. The pain got increasingly worse. I was sure something was terribly wrong because the pain was going the wrong way. The last two weeks have been painful and scary but I was given reassurance I was fine. Gravity, straightening your elbow, and movement again will flare you up. It will get better. Hang in there.

      1. This is exactly where I am, nearly 8 weeks out and the pain is getting worse since removing the sling at 6 weeks. Prior to surgery, I had frozen shoulder, so as a part of the surgery the surgeon did a MUA. Bone spurs were also removed. My ROM is very poor at the weekly PT sessions and I am doing the home exercises. Trying to keep the faith. Wondering if the intense pain is from frozen shoulder and/or unsuccessful surgery. Or is this semi-normal for this surgery? Neck, shoulder, scapula and arm seem to be in spasm. Will be seeing the doc next week. Any advice re: frozen shoulder or unsuccessful surgery? Thanks for this excellent blog, Scott.

  23. I had surgery 3 weeks, 4 days ago for a slap tear, tenodesis(for bicep tendon fraying..anchored to humorous), frozen shoulder(80% capsule scar tissue), debridement(shaved bone due to impingement and bone spurs and arthritis. I am in pt 2x’s wk, working on descensitizing area around incisions..I had arthoscopic..5 portals and 1 – 2 inch incision. Also therapists works on rom for me, I’m not allowed to use my arm for anything except pendulum exercises and stretching carefully. I sleep in bed, recliner, couch. Only able to sleep on back reclined, not side. Dismayed because I’m still on pain meds but time between taking them has increased. It’s difficult because everyone expects instant healing through surgery…everyone’s different…I’m fighting to be patient all the time with my recovery, trying to be as positive as I can be!

    1. Leann, this is one surgery recovery you can’t rush. Hang in there girl and little by little it will get better. This takes time. I am 8 weeks out and I am starting to think I will be okay. Good Luck

  24. Just had a completely torn right rotator cuff repaired on June 1 (I’m 59). I feel lucky compared to some of the other stories I’m reading here. In additional to general anesthesia, it was also recommended to have a shoulder nerve block to basically deaden the entire upper right portion of my torso which I did have administered. Odd feeling to have absolutely no feeling/use in that area of my body for approximately 20 hours after surgery; my right hand just hung there like a dead fish. Of the 40 pain pills I started with, I still have 25; haven’t used any in the last 4 days or so. Also used the Cyro Cuff for about 4-5 days which is a vest like thing that you wear and replenish on occasion with ice water. I’m amazed at how many things I’m already able to do but it does give you an appreciation for having both arms & hands!! Dressing and not being able to drive are the biggest issues for me. Sleeping has been more somewhat more difficult because I sleep on my right side. I’ve set up camp in a spare room where I can prop myself up in the corner of a nice wide couch. However, I haven’t experience the pain overnight that many of you mentioned. You do develop your own techniques for getting tops off and on, putting the sling on, etc. Have been doing the “mini exercises” and will start p/t this week. My biggest issue is that I was working as a contractor and immediately lost my job when they knew I would be out of work (boggles my mind since I was released to go back to work tomorrow)!!

    1. I have had some night pain, not terrible and getting better all the time. My worry was that the pain meant I was doing damage, but my doctor said night pain and most pain is due to position, and adjusting position helps! It has helped me, and I would take it to your doctor or PT to help learn how position can make a difference!

  25. Also agree with Ellen’s comments on 4/20 about watching your husband having to pick up the slack for things that the patient can’t currently do, particularly since he works full times and has some health issues of his own.

  26. Reading all these comments has answered many of my questions that the medical websites haven’t. Due to lengthy HMO process, it has taken months since my injury to see one doctor, then MRI, and now I am waiting until July to see surgeon. I don’t want surgery, but I have to hear what surgeon says first (although surgeons perform surgery and doubt that they would advise anything else). My HMO’s slogan is ‘You’ll either get well or die; if not, then we’ll get to you eventually”. There are personal hygiene things one has to do with their right arm that probably out of delicacy have not been mentioned on this website. I cannot imagine living alone how I will manage even taking care of my cat. How will I wash & blow dry my hair! I cannot afford going to a hairdresser. Well, there are a thousand things I am wondering about. Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences!

    1. I decided that I was going to practice life one-handed a few weeks before surgery, so it wouldn’t be additionally frustrating to learn after surgery. The delicate hygiene areas are the hardest, really, and I have a shower chair that helps, and a hose shower which I cannot imagine doing without! (I am only three weeks out and in a sling).

      I can blow dry my hair with my left hand, put my makeup on, and only have one burn from trying to curl my hair!! Everything takes me longer, but as a friend said, sometimes it is a good thing to slow life down… and it isn’t that I wanted them to, but my family is realizing just how much I do, even though they aren’t always happy that I cannot do it right now!!

      Being dependent isn’t easy, but sometimes it comes to us in life unexpectedly (accidents or illness). My family knows I am doing the things I can do, and they are proud of me, that makes it a little easier to bear….

    2. jeanne, hope your procedure went well and you found a way to cope with the everyday tasks. I am having the surgery 2/28, and I’ve decided to get my hair cut to 1″ all over. it won’t be flattering, but I guess it’ll grow out eventually! Pleae forward any tips you might have on how to cope. Thanks.

  27. Many thanks to all of you!
    Was glad to find this site as I’m due to schedule having this surgery.
    I note there isn’t any mention of antibiotics and I’m under the impression you have to be on them from here on for life. I’m 67 and prefer to remain drug free.
    Any comments??
    Wishing well being to all.

  28. Hello. I had arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery in my right shoulder. Tendon was 80% torn, I had a bone spur and cysts, and impingement. Before deciding on having the surgery, I would go online and read stories from people who’d had the surgery already. I freaked out. But after some quiet time and prayer, I realized that everyone’s experience won’t be the same. Plus, u knew the discomfort in my shoulder would only get worse. I’m 41 years old and a licensed massage therapist.
    I had the surgery at noon, was leaving the hospital around 3pm that day. I woke up with the sling already on me…and a bag containing some numbing medication around my neck. It was a small bottle attached to a catheter in my neck. Anytime I needed a boost of numbing meds, I just hit the little button. After the 3rd day, my husband took that off of me. That evening I started taking the Vicodin to get ahead of the pain, but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
    I didn’t have a recliner, so I propped a few pillows up on a large chair and I sleep upright in it every night.
    The worst part has been the sling for me but…you get used to it.
    I bought a breakfast tray just to have some of my fave things accessible.
    (phone, nook tablet, snacks, vitamins, etc)
    I’ve cried twice….out of sheer frustration of not being comfortable and not being able to do anything. But I shook it off and remembered its gonna be over soon enough.
    Started physical therapy a day after surgery.
    Glad I did. It started off kinda rough but now, I look forward to going. I do it twice a week. My shoulder is much looser and it gets better each day.
    I’m gonna start myofascial release in a couple of weeks.
    I use a heating pad just before I do my exercises, ice after the exercises, and I take L-Glutamine to help with healing and recovery. I drink lots of water, and I watch lots of comedy. 🙂
    Don’t be discouraged. Yeah, it’s gonna be a few days where you’re gonna wonder if surgery was the right thing to do….but just follow your doctors instructions, rest, rest, and rest, and everything will be fine.
    God bless!

    1. Hey guys had my op 11 days ago not in too much pain other than in my bicep but i am really struggling to sleep/get comfortable any where and am getting really frustrated which i guess isnt really helping either ha ha any suggestions ideas would be much appreciated.

      Ps i hav dislocated my right shoulder 13 times and have had to go to hospital to have it put back every time so have been really looking forward to my sugery and eecovery to go back to my sports!!!


      1. I think everyone here would agree with ice, ice, ice & pillows & take your pain medicine. I also had bicep tendon repair & that seemed to bother me the most also. I slept in a recliner for close to three months. Good luck to you Ryan.

      2. Hi Ryan,
        Not sure what your sleeping set-up is. I am at almost 8 weeks, and still in a recliner (since Day 1). Although I did not have any bicep repair done, I feel pain in the upper arm and the shoulder if I lay flat for very long. The pain is too much to ignore, and even pain meds don’t help. Other than this, I have little to no pain. If you aren’t using a recliner and have access to one, you might try it. I had to rent one, but at least I get some sleep. It seems that good sleep is the biggest issue for most of us. Good luck with this.

        1. Best night’s sleep I’ve had in months!
          Only woke up once, that almost a record for me, usually I wake up every 2 hours on the nose,

      3. Hi Ryan,

        I didn’t have a recliner, so I was stuck in bed…. if it hadn’t been for the foam wedge I bought for under my legs I would have been really frustrated trying to arrange pillows so that I would be comfortable – it was bad enough arranging the pillows behind my back! If I had it to do over again, I probably would have purchased a foam wedge for my back too! I got my leg foam at the Foam Shop in Berkeley. But you can also shop on the net or see links to what I’m talking about.
        Leg wedge: (I put another pillow on top of mine because I have very long legs
        back wedge: (I’d get a thicker one)

  29. Had full rotator cuff surgery with bone spur cleanup 3 days ago. First off, this is one of the best discussions I have seen on the web-real life without all that doctor mumble jumble. I’m 48 and pretty active. I fell hard playing hockey, almost completely tore a few tendons in my left shoulder. Surgery is a piece-o-cake, your in, your asleep, you wake up and you go home. My pain was the worst about 9 hours afterwards. Wow, most discomfort I think I have ever felt, even with the drugs. Since then, I agree with most, sling and sleep are a pain. I can use my left hand fine and drove for about 3 hours yesterday. Starting PT in three days. The beginning of hopefully not too long of a road. Hope to play hockey this winter and/or get a round of golf in by October. I strongly recommend surgery for bad tears. I can do everything by myself but it takes forever and hurts like sheep. My wife or kids help only when I ask them. I, like others, HATE being dependent on others. I couldn’t sleep well before surgery, hoping to remember what good sleep is like in the future as well as continue to be very active for my 50’s and on. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Stu, hope you’re doing well now! Surprised you’re starting PT so quickly. For me, I had 6 weeks in the sling followed by 6 weeks without the sling but before starting my PT. My doc was very focused on making sure everything had set before I started exercise. Given how well everything has turned out for me, I think he was right! Hope you make great progress with your PT!

  30. Just an update. I read what I wrote when I was 19 days out. WOW. I needed to read that. I am now 8 weeks out and let me tell you , it has been a tough road. Many times I have questioned if maybe something was wrong because this much pain for so long just couldn’t be right. Well, the pain is finally getting so very much better. Sleeping at night is still a crap shoot. I have left the drugs and have gone to over the counter arthritis strength Tylenol. I still take a Tylenol 3 at bedtime. You simply can’t judge your progress day by day. You must look at week by week. You will have good days followed by bad days. Therapy! You simply MUST do your therapy. I am 63 and they didn’t expect me to have full range of motion at this point but I do. I am religious about my therapy. Don’t over do it either. I did a couple of times because I wanted to push myself and boy did I pay for it. Do your therapy just as you are told. I am told that the pain will be with me for 3 to 6 months but is less amount all the time and I am finding that to be true. Can’t wait for a good nights sleep. I questioned time and time again if I should have done it but fact is I had to. My tear was bad. So, Thank you so much for this website. I got good advice, and balanced information. I got confidence when I doubted. I got reassurance when I was scared. Thank you each and everyone for sharing your story. Now, Do your therapy!

  31. Karen, thanks for sharing your update. Indeed, it’s quite a journey! Good to see you’re dedicated to your PT – it’s so important to pay close attention and neither over or under do it!

  32. I am 5 weeks post op from rotator cuff repair and elbow tendon repair, injured in a car accident. I chose to have both surgeries done together as the recovery is 6 months for each and I couldn’t see doing this twice. I really appreciate this blog as many of my family and friends can’t believe that I’m not ready to shed the sling (and elbow brace) and lift weights. I guess it’s hard to believe how slow this recovery is until you have the surgery or live with someone recovering from it. I have just returned to sleeping in bed although I still wake up during the night in pain. I do find the pendulum stretches help with stiffness. I find that 600 mg of Advil on a regular schedule is really important for managing pain. Thanks to all who have posted and helped during my first weeks!

    1. Cathy, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you’ve turned the corner – I remember how great it was to shed the sling after 6 weeks! Good luck with your physical therapy ahead!

    2. check with your Dr. on the advil. Nsaid medications including advil inhibit tendon healing, tylonol (acetometaphin) is reccomended.

      1. I was told ibuprofin was fine, will have to rethink it as I have used it to decrease inflammation after pt etc….

  33. This site has been the best thing in explaning what to look forward to. I plan to have “Right shoulder arthroscopy, sub acromial decompression, mini-open rotator cuff repair”. This is according to what my doc. wrote. I researched all of this and the short of it is, repair a torn rotator cuff, re-attach a tendon and clean-up a bone spur. I am 70 and took a stupid fall in April 2012. The surgery is scheduled for August 21, 2012. I have soreness and I have trouble sleeping at night. What’s crazy is I have full range of motion and have good strength in my shoulder. I considered not having the surgery but I was told it could get worse and it would not heal on it’s own. I’ll check back in with my post-op comments. Good luck to all, thanks for sharing.

    1. Bob
      I have had the decompression and torn rotator cuff both done this year in 2 seperate arthroscopic surgerys 6 months apart.
      It was unfortunate that the surgeon was unaware of the tear whenthe decompression was done resulting in me having to go through two lots of recovery.
      Same as you apart from occasional irritation i had full use and movement of the arm with both problems.
      I continued to run 6 mile every day with the tear and did a half marathon (although the running did irritate it).
      I have got the surgery done so as i can remain active and be pain free for many years.
      i am 9 days in now from the surgery and pain free. Hoping to get onto PT soon and get rid of this annoying sling.

  34. I am 11 days out from complete rotator repair and I can honestly say that except for the sling trouble with sleep, I have been almost pain free. I read all these horror stories on the internet and put the surgery off one time. Now I am glad I did it. I have started getting frustrated with the sling during the day, and to be honest I take it off if I am just sitting in the recliner. Its on the same angle as the sling and does not seem to hurt it.

    1. My physical therapist actually recommended that I take the sling off and rest my arm on my leg, to allow slight opening of the elbow to reduce tendon and muscle stiffening down there. He massages my neck and elbow muscles weekly to make sure that I am not in additional discomfort there when I can begin more active PT later. These are not things every PT knows to do… but I think they make life more comfortable!!

  35. Hi
    I am a 38 year old male from UK & had arhroscopic rotator cuff surgery 9 days ago for a minor tear after already having surgery Jan 2012 for shoulder impingement.
    I was concerned about the possible pain and difficulty sleeping from reading other peoples experiences, however other than a mild pain the 2nd night after surgery i have felt none at all. I have also found sleeping in bed much better than expected with the sling. I sleep comfortably on the non operated side with the hand of my operated arm tucked under the armpit of the good arm and 2 pillows placed either side of me. The first 2/3 nights i woke regularly but now sleeping well. Took codeine, paracetoml & diclofenac regularly for 7 days and now off pain meds all together.
    Biggest nightmare for me is being unable to go running, to the gym and awkwardness of daily tasks with a sling on.
    I am back to the consulant for a check up and stictches removal in 3 days and hoping to start PT.
    I am pleased with my progress and already able to dress myself, do up shoelaces and hope to be out of the sling within the next 2 weeks.
    Hope my experiences help.

  36. Want to update again. Not that I am so important but I want to encourage you who are not at my 10 weeks out yet. Believe me I relied on this sight everytime I had a meltdown ( and I did) I had two major crying spells in the middle of the night. So sure my surgeon had messed up and something was wrong. Will never forget the two weeks off hand tremors. They would just say “Oh that is normal” I was sure I was different and they just weren’t listening to me. My therapist said that healing comes first with range of motion exercises while the healing happens. That when we could start to strengthen, the pain would leave. I was more than doubtful but I kept doing my therapy like it was a religion. I am 10 weeks out and we have been strengthening since week 6. VERY slowly. I am now using 2 lb weights, larger tubing, and even started wall push ups. Guess what? This is Saturday and I haven’t even had a Tylenol since Thursday. I am getting stronger and the pain is just an occasional discomfort now. I start at the gymn Tuesday after I see the doctor Monday. Want to follow his instructions to the letter. Last night I tried to sleep without the usual sleep aide ( also your pain med is a sleep aide) I was cold turkey. I woke up many times but went back to sleep. Pain didn’t wake me up. I think my mind has gotten use to a pill making me sleepy. I have started a 6 week sleeping coach online that I did one other time. Tylenol pm sponsers it with sleep disorder physicians. I am not a joiner and thought it was just babble but I did it and it worked. So I started it at week one today. Just want to tell you who are struggling with the early weeks that there is most likely nothing wrong. This is a tough surgery and it takes time. It is scary, full of doubt, and pain. It does heal. You do get over it. Do your therapy. Good luck. Karen

  37. 6 weeks tomorrow I had rotator cuff surgery (tear too big for arthroscopic surgery). I am 77 years old. I slept in my bed on my back from the day of surgery. I am now able to drive. The pillow was removed from the sling last Monday and I will give up the sling entirely next Monday. The therapy was passive range of motion until today when I started the machines, pulleys, etc. My worst pain has been the stiffness in elbow and wrist. I have 7 more weeks of therapy but would do this surgery again if I had to. Elastic shoe laces for my sneakers were very helpful because I like to walk. Hoping to soon be playing the piano again and maybe but late Fall I’ll be able to mow.

    1. Glad to hear a positive. I’m in the process of doing this, Dr says small tear?
      left shoulder been getting cortisone shots for about 16 months.
      A shot every 4 months when the pain keeps me awake at night.
      He’s a Orthopaedic Dr but not sure about how many of these he has done.
      75 years old good blood pressure, not on any medications. Historically
      have a problem with any type of high powered pain killers, Afetr 3rd shot
      get a little panic attack slept in a recliner for 8 weeks when I broke 4
      vertebraes in my back..

  38. Scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 15- 2 tears (rotator cuff and slap tear) plus arthritis and tendinitis and cannot recall what else. Was advised by the surgeon that I can expect only 2 weeks in a sling- but from every account I’ve read, the time is much longer. Has anyone had 2 weeks or less then 3 in a sling? Is it possible that my surgery is less severe then others- that’s what I’m assuming or perhaps my surgeon is being too optimistic? I live alone and am rounding up friends to be available in the mornings (to help me dress and wash) and to drive to physical therapy and then to pop in at night to see how I’m doing and help with my cat (have been training myself to deal with the litter with my left hand but it’s not easy). Am terrified most of all (besides the pain which I know can be controlled with meds) of being dependent on friends- as someone who is a helper and not used to asking for or receiving help- this has me totally freaked out. Am assuming this is the lesson here for me- or one of them.
    Can someone share with me when they are able to manage getting dressed on their own? Cannot figure out how to dress with the sling. What about showering- can the sling come off for that? Happy that I should be able to type as I plan to be back at work from home within a week or so post surgery. So many questions – greatly appreciate finding this site.

    1. Karyn
      I guess you need to follow very carefully the advice from your own surgeon.
      You will notice from the posts here that experiences seem to differ greatly dependant on age, fitness, type of surgery & mental state.
      I am now 15 days out from minor rotator cuff tear surgery and revisited the surgeon for post a op check 4 days ago when i was advised to keep the sling on for another 2 weeks (4 in totaly questions24a5f16896a9178562f3?s=1t-3754s="commenthat cs (4 in e dCompic.lifel='noe siess='comment-r,ofollo">dComgoeply-liental sn at nightsow 15 daow. from every accn-i)2 and maybe . becs alp://salingi

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