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.
Learning 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?
1,217 replies on “My Life in a Sling! – Rotator Cuff Surgery”
Sounds painful, it’s tough not to move your arm. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
HAVE HAD 4 ROTOR CUFF PROCEDURES-3 ON RIGHT 2 SCOPE 1 OPEN- HAVE FULL MOTION-SLEEPING ON RECLINER- PILLOW UNDER AND ON SIDE OF SHOULDER ALSO KEEP SLING HIGH ! AT LEAST 90 DEGREE ANGLE YOUR HAND CLOSE OR ABOVE HEART RELIEVES STRESS- WHEN TRYING TO SLEEP -ALSO NO PAIN MEDS —-AFTER 7 PM— TRY PM OVER COUNTER OR NYQUIL- ALSO FOR MOTION BEST THING FOR ME —TRY A HEATED POOL OR JACUZZI WORKS WONDERS 55 YEAR OLD MALE- GOD BLESS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!!
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
Let us know how your check up went. I found this place called reboundwear.com 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.
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.
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 !!
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.
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..
Sorry to hear that Scott, I hope it will get better soon.
Just passed the 6th week of post op. I miss a good night sleep. Hope you’re doing well now.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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 😀
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.
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.
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.
I’ve had terrible trouble with my neck because of the damn sling and only now (9 weeks) is it slightly better!
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….
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 🙂
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.
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,
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?
Yes you will need help. I just had surgery a week ago and still need help
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!!!
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!
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?
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Oh my word! A double whammy. I’m so sorry. My warmest thoughts for a smooth surgery and un-eventful recovery.
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%.
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).
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..
amen…… i’m 2 weeks post op and just now figuring out sleeping with a sling
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.
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!!!
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?
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.. 🙂
Was your rehab that long because of the severity of the tear?
4-6 months seems like an eternity .
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
just had mine 2 weeks ago. my neck hurts just from the sling. any insight on a different kind of sling?
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.
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!
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
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!
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. Jodee.Rowe@yahoo.com
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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 🙂
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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
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..
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
BK Jackson .. I didn’t drive for six weeks. That’s how long I had the sling on.
I am in the same situation as everyone else.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Once they give you the nerve blocker.you 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
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 http://www.dme-direct.com/donjoy-iceman-ice-man-cold-therapy-cryotherapy-1100-don-joy/
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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!!!
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
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 —
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Hi. I am a fellow mail carrier and looking towards rotator cuff repair no later than March. How are you doing now?
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
so..next 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.
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!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
I would most definitely call your doctor. That’s what you are paying him/her for! Don’t suffer in silence.
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!
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
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)!!
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!
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.
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!
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….
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.
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.
Wishing well being to all.
Diane, I’m not on any antibiotics post surgery. Hope your surgery and recovery goes very well! Having a shoulder that works is a big deal!
I had the surgery about two weeks ago…no antibiotics.
My doctor had me take antibiotics for 5 days after the surgery, but that was it.
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.
I am a hairstylist with a tear in my rotator cuff. How long where you out of work?
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!!!
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.
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.
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,
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: http://tinyurl.com/kjozvz6 (I put another pillow on top of mine because I have very long legs
back wedge: http://tinyurl.com/k9coqdx (I’d get a thicker one)
By the way…I had the surgery 13 days ago. 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
check with your Dr. on the advil. Nsaid medications including advil inhibit tendon healing, tylonol (acetometaphin) is reccomended.
I was told ibuprofin was fine, will have to rethink it as I have used it to decrease inflammation after pt etc….
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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
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.
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..
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.
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 total, which seems to be the average).
Personally i feel very good now after 2 weeks and feel i could manage without the sling. I am able to dress, tie up shoelaces, work on a computer, drive an automatic and even mow the lawn whilst using the one arm. I am going to follow my surgeons advice and keep the sling for 2 more weeks. My arm does get tired when i take it out of the sling and i guess it needs to be there to rest it and prevent me making any silly motions with that arm and messing up full recovery.
I was advised i could remove it during showering and dressing from day 1 and was able to do both these tasks although very slowly. Believe me all these tasks get alot easier as every day goes by.
I live alone too and it is suprising how you quickly you adapt to using the one arm and i have required no help from anyone. Like alot of others on here i am reluctant to ask for assisstance but i know it is there if i really need it.
I wish you the best of luck.
There are several good videos on YouTube addressing rotator cuff recovery. One video series is from PremierPT Jax (Jacksonville Florida) was very interesting. One of the PT guys had surgery and explains his experience. He also explained the stages of recovery and the length of time for healing. I hope this helps. I have moved my surgery up to Thur. 7/27 and I am planning on 4 to 6 weeks in a sling, I would love for it to be shorter.
I am three weeks out and I can say that during the first week I could dress my lower half easily, but get pull up pants without fastenings to reduce frustration and the need for both hands to fasten.
You can get a shirt on and off, and I have used some tank tops that can be stretched easily to get on and off, but front-fastening shirts are best, and snaps are easier than buttons if you can find them. I have been going sleeveless or wide sleeves, you don’t want anything that takes too much effort to adjust once you have it on! Since you cannot lift your arm, you have to work the sleeve on to the corrected arm and shoulder with your good arm, and then get the rest of the top on. I went to thrift stores and bought loose, front open blouses to get me through this time and a couple of nice ones for going out of the house.
Your body will tell you what you can and cannot do, just don’t get in a hurry!
Hi all. Just had my 2nd rotator cuff repair first was key hole 2nd was open surgery. Was wondering if anyone has experienced bad taste in there mouth after their surgery? Thanks
I am two weeks today out of surgery, to put it simply my 1 1/2 surgery turned into 3 1/2 hours. Frozen Shoulder, Bone Spur, tendentious, plus a big tear on top and bottom with screws repairing the damage, to say the least they found things in my shoulder they did not except to find!!! I am in a sling for 4 weeks only allowed to come out a few times a day to do 3 very simple at home exercises. No physical therapy until some healing takes place. I can not remember the last time I have had a night sleep!
I want to thank everyone on here for sharing their stories, as yesterday I was feeling very down and realize everything I was feeling is TOTALLY normal, including am I healing properly or are my aches and pain abnormal? All I can say is this is one of the most painful experience of my life, but I am not alone and that knowledge is a little bit comforting.
I would like to share my motto with all of you as it is helping me get thru each day.
“In my future I will be pain free” Good luck and again thank you for sharing your stories.
Lori, that’s the great part about this site. You get to see you are doing normal at those times when you think something must have gone wrong. You will do fine.
This is a wonderful site. Thanks all. I am 52 woman and very active, healthy etc. Injured my shoulder last April, possibly doing handstands in yoga along with continous vinyasa and also photographing with a heavy lens? Not sure. Suddenly it just hurt but I can’t point to what exactly caused it. Had been weak for years since a skiing accident.
I’ve had MRI and four ultrasounds by different doctors bc I keep wanting to hear something different or at least definitive. 🙂 What is unanimous is that I definitely have a level three impingement. One doc suspects a partial tear of the supraspinitus.
Another said supraspinitus is “very thin and could be torn”. Another thought it was actually the biceps tendon but … the MRI shows its all rather intact. So my question is this: has anyone just had the op for the impingement, to shave off the bone so it is not stabbing into the tendon?
The surgeon I’ve finally selected said he would do it arthroscopically and if, when he was in there he saw a tear, he would also fix that with an anchor, but that he may not have to at all, so only three weeks in a sling.
My AC joint is very prominent but not painful so his view is because it is large but asymptomatic, just leave it as is and treat only the problem causing the pain which is– possibly — only the extreme impingement.
So, brave kind folks, does anyone have any experience with “pain” but despite all the technology, no certainty? Four excellent surgeons in separate consultations all said they couldn’t quite see what was what except all advised it must be fixed. (They could observe my pain). Even with an MRI (without contrast) seems they don’t quite know.
Except that the tendon is impinged, but possibly not even torn. (That would be great).
The last question – one doc said he advised no typing at all for six weeks if the rotator is torn (I’m a writer). I had thought I could just sit and write whilst not being able to drive. Has anyone heard of a healing process this conservative? He said that when you type, nerve fibres fire, and that this is not good for healing.
Sorry this is so long. Thank you everyone. Blessings to all.
I am so glad I found this site and thank you for creating it. I feel more “normal” in what I’m going through . I’m 5 weeks in and can’t seem to remember what more than 2 hrs of sleep is like. I ended up with 4 anchors to repair the frontal section and some more minor work in rear and a spur removed. As I sit here at 1:50am I’ve become so frustrated with the sling and sleep. I’ve tried sleeping sitting up, laying down, on my back, partially on the side but it just doesn’t matter. I still have not started rehab and in afraid I’m going to break something loose before this all over. I’m not very patient but do feel better now understanding this was a bigger deal than I expected. Someone had mentioned he wasn’t mentally prepared and I have to say that is me too. I was not prepared for this.
I wonder if some can weigh in; after they are out of the sling how long do they feel it takes them to be getting back to normal activities? (Like I said I’m not very patient.) Good luck to everyone!!!
Thanks for listening
I’m only 10 day out and wear the sling sparingly while at home..the PT seems to work really well with the lift machine and home exercises……….only limited pain, no meds and sleeping in the recliner
Good luck, Dudley
Ps. Right now my surgery is scheduled for 8 August. . .
I had the impingement surgery on its own in January this year after an x ray showed the hooked bone causing my impingement and pinching pain (no MRI was carried out pre op).
The surgeon made a point of taking the sling off me before i left the hospital after the bone shave.
As there was “no repair work” carried out (only bone spur shave) there was no requirement for a sling and he encouraged movement of the sholder as soon as possible. My shoulder was very stiff for about 4 days but having no sling made me get it moving as quick as possible meaning i returned to work on the 5th day although i was sore for a few more weeks and on painkillers still.
It actually took me 3/4 months until i could lay on the operated shoulder in bed.
Unfortunately i continued to have soreness particularly when i resumed my daily running and after an MRI scan 4 months later it turned out i also had a minor rotator cuff tear as a result of the initial impingment of the tendon.
I am now 3 weeks out from the rotstor cuff repair during which he used one anchor.
I am now just about out of the sling and starting to resume most activities gradually. I am unable to lift my arm more than 60 degrees to the front or side due to post op stiffness and weakness but i am due to start PT next week which i hope will address this. My surgeon thinks i will be able to get it going myself without too much assisstance.
I would say the bone shaving for me was more painful/sore of the two surgeries but less of an inconvenience, however the rotator cuff surgery was just awkward with the use of the sling and the longer period of recovery required.
I was typing the on the computer the same week as the surgery and the surgeon advised me this was fine.
I am sure you would agree that it is important to follow your own surgeons advice as they are the professional and have more information about your circumstances. Everyone’s situation is going to be different.
Hope this answers some of your questions.
i have found all comments very helpful…my husband goes into surgery July 30, 2012 day after his 71 birthday. Thank you all for answering a lot of questions for us. I was wondering if any comments on the helper. How much help should we give? I hope to post more after the surgery. He is very active with softball and work.
I say we all say a big Thank You to Scott for making this site available to us. It’s easy to find sites with wild opinions , doom and gloom. This site is informational. We can learn from others who posted at our point in time. So! Thank you Scott. Hey how about an update from you Scott!
Karen, thanks for your thank you – but it’s the sharing by the group that’s been so interesting! As for me, I’m coming up on 3 years since my rotator cuff surgery – and things have turned out very well for me. I have full range of motion in my right shoulder – and just a bit of weakness that really doesn’t interfere with my quality of life. I’m so fortunate to have had a great surgeon who did such a great surgery on me!
I had my left shoulder repaired about 5 weeks ago no sling and I ve been in PT for about 4weeks. My pain level and all is excactally the same as it was befor surgery not to mention the nerve damage in my elbow (that they wont fix till my shoulder is better) has gotten worse and spread to my hand making it very difficult to grip anything after surgery did people notice a difference in the pain level and when
Chris, look up Ulnar nerve.
Chris, I wanted to say that I had a problem with my elbow and hand too. Thought for sure that it was some sort of damage. It is the ulnar nerve and it is’t damaged, just inflamed and it is getting better. Your Dr. is ALWAYS your best source of information. Just didn’t want you to worry too much about it. Everything in the arm is all connected to the shoulder. Any trama inflames everything. I’ll bet it will be fine, given time.
I have found this site very useful both before and after my surgery and what makes it interesting is to have such a range of different experiences and timeframes for recovery . I was very concerned before my surgery that this was going to be a lot worse than it actually has been for me.
I wanted to update on my 4 week progress from my rotator cuff surgery on 5th July.
I had another visit to my surgeon 2 days ago and to my relief he advised me to finish with the sling ( i had started to use it less and less during week 3).
He has also cleared me for resuming my daily running with caution and he has issued me some PT exercises to do myself at home (no visit to a physio required).
I am able to now rotate my arm 90 degrees to front & side pain free and reach above shoulder height briefly. He advised me to leave the strengthening for another month.
As i can now also drive without a problem i consider myself to be back to all normal daily activities.
I understand i will be sore for some time and it will take many months until i am 100%.
Throughout my recovery i have tried to let my own body and pain dictate what i can and cannot do. I ensured that although i needed to use the sling to protect the repair,i removed my arm regularly and tried to prevent stiffness.
I believe my age (37) and good level of fitness has enabled me to get through this without too much trouble.
This is just a follow up post. I am 17 days post op from my rotator cuff surgery. The doc said he used 6 anchors since the tear was pretty big. I had a mini-open arthroscopic repair (3 small holes and a 4 inch cut). For me the three days after surgery were the worst, since then things just keep getting better. I’m 70 years old and have been very active in the past. Sleeping is the hardest part or maybe I should say trying to sleep with the sling. I get 4 to 5 hours sleep a night with a lot of moving to find just the right spot. I am looking forward to week 5, that’s when my doc says I can get out of the sling. Only 19 days to go. I echo everyone who says it is worth it, I already feel much better. P.S. I take my sling off during the day while I am just sitting around and that has not seemed to hurt me, I did ask the doc about this and he said OK. Good luck everyone.
God Bless Bob. Sounds like you are doing great! Thanks for your encouragement to all.
This is an EXCELLENT blog. Thanks to everyone for it.
It’s now been a week since my surgery and am still having a good bit of pain, especially at night. A few questions:
Before the surgery sleeping always caused pain that I felt mostly when I work up in the morning and for a little while after……………..even if I slept on the “other” side. I am finding that I have the same issue now, only worse, no matter what position I sleep in, which, now is mostly on the recliner. How long did it take for the whole night-pain thing to pass for others of you?
I take off the sling a few times a day to do the passive elbow and wrist bends and the pendulum exercise, but sometimes feel that my arm is cramping up when in the sling for too long. Taking the arm out of the sling for awhile and letting it rest on the seat next to me seems to help. (I sometimes am even able to passively move the arm, rest the heal of my palm on the laptop, and type.) Did others experience this sort of cramping? Also, how long did you wait before typing with both hands?
I still feel the odd ache, pain, burning and particularly stiffness across the top of the shoulder going into week 7 but i know to expect this for some months.
Nothing that wakes me though or gives me any real issues. Bad night pain passed within the first week.
As far as typing goes i was using the laptop & mouse from week 2 but i had soreness in the bad arm using the mouse until week 5.
It was not until i got rid of the sling week 4 and got moving that i started to rapidly improve.
I too had arm cramps and like you dropped the arm out of the sling as much as poss particularly when sitting watching th tv and had to get up in the middle of the night to move the arm around.
I think the worst thing would have been keeping it in the sling fcontinuously for 4/5 weeks and then suddenly expecting the arm to start moving.
Thanks. I am now 5 days further out in my recovery……………two weeks tomorrow.
I was off Vicodin for the first time yesterday and last night, but night it is still really rough. Finding a comfortable position anywhere is a challenge. It’s actually a comic exercise of musical chairs. I start on a recliner; move to the couch; then to the bed; then back to the recliner; and so on. Throughout this, I apply ice on and off. Each place I eventually drift away until I wake up from the pain; then I move again.
The biggest challenge for me is feeling assured that everything is alright. I had to undergo two surgeries for repair of torn cartilidge in my knee years ago (doctor said, “Sorry, I didn’t take out enough the first time”), so that’s playing with my mind. What’s that old saying? “Just because I’m paradoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”
Like you mention, I have also taken off the sling to relieve the cramping feeling and to be sure that the shoulder doesn’t stiffen up too badly. I honestly don’t feel uncomfortable when doing it, and it has been a good judge of recovery. I am able to feel more mobility and ability to do smple things that I couldn’t do the day before. But is this wise? Is it impeding recovery? Don’t know, I guess. Just have to go with my gut.
What’s also an issue is that I keep bumping the damn arm……….like there is some sort of gravitational pull between the shoulder and hard, stationary objects.
My doctor is more of a let pain be your guide person (rather than rigidly keeping the arm in a sling), so I guess it’s okay. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Any other bits of wisdon you have would be welcomed.
Thank goodness for this site! It will be two weeks tomorrow since my surgery. I haven’t read any other post with my particular issue. I have a large red hive rash on my shoulder and upper arm. The arm is hotter than the other one, and it is painful to touch. It’s also swollen. I saw my Dr. yesterday for my first post op appt. He thinks it’s from the ice machine. I used the one from Kodiac. I kept the ice on for 8 hours at a time, and then off for one hour. This was per my Dr.’s instructions. After he saw my arm, he suggested I not use the ice for three days, and see if it gets better. Anyone else have this problem? Thanks!
I had my surgery a little over 2 weeks ago, and I didn’t experience this kind of thing. I’ve had a lot of pain, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, but no rash like you describe.
Did you put the ice machine directly on the skin or did you have something in between? Unless it was right on, it is hard to imagine that it could be frostbite, since, as far as I know, it doesn’t produce a rash, per se. But I am not a physician, so can only speculate.
As much as anything, I would worry for you about not being able to apply cold to the shoulder. I am still using my ice machine quite a bit so I know how much relief it can bring.
In your situtation, I might call my general practitioner for advice. An internist or family physician lives more in the world of rashes and such and would also likely be more objective.
Just a thought.
Good luck on this and keep us posted.
Yep, frostbite. My skin is peeling now, but it’s feeling much better. I’m nervous to use the machine again, and the pain is manageable with advil. I bought a foam wedge for my bed…heaven! I’m almost sleeping through the night!
Connie, my instruction were to never ice more than 20 minutes at a time. I had a wrap with ice packs and was also instructed to always have a thin layer of material under the packs. Hang in there lady and good luck.
I’m glad I stumbled across this discussion. My MRI shows a large full-thickness tear of the supraspinatus, a 50% tear of the subscapularis, small SLAP lesion, and AC joint bone spurs. My surgery is scheduled for October 22 which should give me about 5 weeks to recover before having to go back to work. I don’t expect too much trouble working as I’m a technical writer and don’t have a strenuous job. The surgery will be to my right shoulder and I’m right-handed so I’m naturally concerned about how I’m going to manage everything with my left hand.
I’m 54 and my first grandchild (a boy) is due mid-September. My goal is to be able to throw a pitch as soon as he’s big enough to catch one. There’s a saying, ‘misery loves company’, and it’s good to know that others have already been down this road… Thanks for sharing.
this is my second surgery the last one was 8 days ago for a tear in the rotator cuff .my doctor said use the sling only if I go out! It seems everything i READ ON HERE EVERYONE WEARING THIERS! I am in so much pain cant sleep /off all meds except for flexrall .i feel so much pain! I could just cut my arm off it hurts that much!
Do you just let your arm hang down? I was told to not take mine off except to shower for 6 weeks. And you are off all pain meds in 8 days? Think you need to call you Dr. and have a talk. Good luck.
Hi folks. Just stopped PT (helped with a bit of range of motion but pain is not tolerable) and got a cortisone shot in my left shoulder today. Hoping to put off the pain for a while. I’m fairly positive that I’ll be headed to surgery fix the tear, the fraying, the spur, etc. I’m just trying to see how long I can hold off. This is a 23 year old injury that I re-injured about 6 weeks ago. I didn’t have any treatment when it first happened, so this my first foray.
Here’s some newbie questions:
1. Why can’t anyone drive? Are you restricted from it? I have driven one handed several times due to injuries to one hand or the other. (I know that you can’t drive on the meds – lol!)
2. If you have the arthroscopic (sp?) surgery, when do you see the surgeon afterwards? I live in the north where frigid temps and lots of snow anywhere from October to May would make it hard to go the 80 miles one-way for the surgery. Could I stay at a hotel overnight with a family member and see the surgeon the next day – then go home? I can get all of the rehab in my town, so travel is not a problem there.
3. I sleep pretty badly now, so I’m used to that. I have a nest of pillows all around me in bed, so that’s covered. I CANNOT sleep on my back AT ALL. If I supported the sling with pillows and whatnot, could I sleep on the opposite side? This could be a deal-breaker.
4. This will sound odd, but I’m very body conscious – not that I’m a super-fine specimen. (That deserves a snort-giggle!) I never wear tight clothes, shirts without sleeves, etc. It’s not a religious thing, but sort-of. Will the sling “snuggify” my shirts? I’m not one for sweat pants or the like, but could definitely wear them around the house and for sure right after surgery. I guess if I waited until the cold weather, I could wear my arm/sling under a shirt. It sounds silly, but it is important to me.
5. Can I do my usual stuff with my good arm – walking the dogs (one at a time), doing art, etc. shortly after the first few days post-op?
I appreciate your input from previous posts and your time in maybe replying to mine.
Off to enjoy my cortisone – much less pain than before the shot. I won’t do anything stupid – maybe just get that book off of the top shelf that I couldn’t get before.
Cheers and best wishes to all.
1. I was driving within a few days of the surgery with one hand although this is not advised. There could be implications on your insurance as you are deemed to not be in control of the vehicle. I you need to take avasive action you could also damag your bad shoulder as well as other road users/pedestrians.
2. Surgeon usually required revisit in 10 days to remove stiches followed by another couple of visits.
3. you should be able to sleep on side or front as pain allows provided you utilise pilllows for support. I can’t sleep on my back either.
4. You will need baggy clothes initially until you are able to dress yourself well and wear the sling over your clothes. This was about two weeks for me.
5. You should be able to walk the dogs and do anything else you would normally do provided you wear the sling and protect the arm at all times. I was out walking daily from 3 days post surgery. This greatly helped with my recovery and maintaining some sort of normal life.
The 2 cortisone shots i had were great relief for about 2/3 months until the pain returned I eventually had to give in and go for the surgery.
I had surgery to repair a 100% tear in my right shoulder on August 23, 2012. I went for my 5 week checkup today and am now able to get rid of my sling. Although this surgery wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…it is no picnic either. I had a pain pump for 1 week after surgery that released pain medication by itself. I had no control of how much or how little I got. The only problem I had with it was that it numbed not only my shoulder but my whole arm. The numbness was the worst experience ever, for me. My arm was completely dead and for a week and I thought something went wrong with my surgery. My husband talked to the hospital quite a few times about it. They had him turn the pump down for an hour to see if I had tingling in my fingers. When I told them I did, they said everything is fine…turn it back up. We removed the pain pump after 5 days and all feeling was back within one hour. I was given permission to drive, from my doctor, once the pump was removed. I also had a chair with a robotic arm and an ice machine that I used religiously for two weeks. I’m pretty sure those two pieces of equipment are the reasons that I am recovering so well. I guess the things that I didn’t know about are what bothered me the most. No lifting over 1 lb for the first 5 weeks and after my appointment today..no lifting over 1-2 lbs. That is going a little slower than I thought it would. He said it could take 6 months to a year to get back to my normal routine even though I am ahead of schedule now. I can reach above my head but can’t reach behind me yet. By that, I can’t scratch my back above my waist. I am overall very pleased with my decision to have the surgery because I was in more pain before than I am now.
To answer some of your questions:
1. My doctor said I could drive after the pain pump was removed.
2. I did have the arthroscopic surgery as an outpatient. I had to see my doctor 1 week after surgery, 5 weeks and my next appointment is in 6 weeks.
3. I slept in bed with pillows all around me. They suggest sleeping in a recliner.
4. I stayed in my pj’s the first week and was able to put my jeans on after that. It’s a little rough getting dressed but not impossible. I also wear loose fitting pull over tops. You just have to put your sore arm in first. You will figure out the best way for you.
5. I’m not sure walking a dog would be a good idea but you should ask your doctor (I don’t own a dog). You can do a lot of other stuff as long as it can be done with your other arm. My friends couldn’t believe that I was on the computer so soon after my surgery.
I also tried the PT and cortisone shots thinking I would get out of having the surgery. It really only postponed what I knew had to be done. The pain was unbearable.
Hope this helps you in making your decision. Having a good doctor is the key to it all. I am extremely happy with the one I chose.
I forgot to mention the stitches. Mine will dissolve by themselves. I didn’t need another appointment to have them removed.
My heart goes out to you in a “been there” kind of way.
One thing I’ve found is that you can find many, many opinions from doctors about use of the sling because of the balancing act between allowing the shoulder to heal and not have it freeze up. I tapered on use of the sling in my first 3 weeks because I thought that was I was supposed to do and, if I had to do it all over again, I would wear it consistently to allow the healing process to take place and avoid overuse………………except for when you do the passive exercises — pendulum swing and chair slide, which are intended to help with flexibility.
For me, a part of the reason I reach this conclusion is that my shoulder was VERY inflamed at the time of the surgery, so it had to get over that plus the surgery. Others may have had a different level of inflammation beforehand, which could allow some flexibility on use of the sling. But, that said, the conservative approach is the wear it.
On the pain, I FEEL your pain. I went through the same thing. In my case, Percocet didn’t work and the doctor changed me to Vicodin, which did. The good news is that the pain subside after a few days if you allow the arm to stay still (translation: use the sling), avoid using it, and use ice. I was issued an ice machine that pumps cold water over and around the shoulder. It helps with the swelling and pain. Did you receive one of these?
Thank you for this great blog! I had my rotator cuff surgery on June 12, 12 – I am a 53 yr old female – I had a small 80% thickness supraspinatus tear on my right side – of course I am right handed. I tore the tendon 3 years ago and finally had the surgery this summer. The surgery was not bad – but I did have a difficult time coming out of the anaesthesia. I didn’t take any post surgery pain meds – I felt pain post surgery – but it was manageable – lot of ice packs. I know a lot of other people here posted that sleeping was very difficult for them — but for the first 4 weeks, I slept like a log. I just propped myself up on pillows. I work in an office – so went back to work 6 days post surgery. Looking back now – I should have stayed home a few more days. I type a lot with my job – and that was a challenge — I could not lift my hand/arm from keyboard to mouse. It tooks weeks before I could move back and forth between keyboard and mouse with some ease. I kept the sling on the first 4 weeks and only removed it for bathing. Week 5 and 6 were difficult for me — I was taking my arm out of the sling — and it was painful. Lot’s of Ibuprofen and lots more ice. I started physical therapy at week four — passive motion and arm swings. Weeks 5-10 – lots of physical therapy – lots of stretching exercises and lite weights – and it still hurt. I really turned a corner at week 10 – I don’t know what happened — woke up one day — and most of my pain was gone. I still have a long way to go — I still can’t get my arm behind my back – but I know I will get there – I have some pain — but it’s mostly from working out or PT. I’m slowing regaining strength and most of my ROM. Reading everyone’s experiences have been so helpful to me — it shows that everyones healing is so different. Best of luck to everyone here!!
Like you, my tears are on my right side and I’m also right handed. Being a technical writer, I use the keyboard and mouse alot with my work. I’m hoping to be able to do some light work from home after two weeks. Does that sound reasonable?
Thank you Scott for this website. There are many degrees of shoulder surgery, some simpler than others. Hence, individuals recover/feel pain more or less than others. I am 67 years old, had major surgery 6 weeks ago, surgeon described it as ‘hamburger with the lot!’ Found it very painful and debilitating ,with my husband having to help me shower, dress, put sling on and off etc, not to mention the sleepless nights with the sling on .Am in my second week without sling, and having PT twice a week. My hand and fingers on the bad side are quite swollen? Anyone else have this happen?
I could type on my computer a couple of days after surgery, it was just an effort. You will figure out ways to make it easier by using support under your arm or resting your arm on the desk — hopefully you will not have any problems.
I had the same situation, and my experience parallels Kaye’s. However, I found that moving the mouse irritated the shoulder; so went without it. I just carefully rested the heal of my palm on either side of the built-in mouse pad and moved the cursor with my thumbs. Not my preference, but it works.
To reinforce, when I had my 3-week follow-up with the surgeon last week, he said this is the way he wants me to go. Operating the mouse requires a tiny tug on the shoulder right where the repair took place, hence the discomfort.
I was back on my computer after 2 weeks but I just had to learn to do everything with my left hand. It took a little more time and a lot of patience but at least I got my work done.
Had rotator cuff repair in feb 2012, had a complete tear, bone spur removed, and subacromial decompression. I had to wear brace continually for 6 weeks, took a while to get used to it, I already had sleeping difficulty, wearing brace made it worse, I am a stomach sleeper, sitting up to sleep was a nightmare. I started my physical therapy 2 weeks after surgery, very very painful, the stretching was the worst thing I have ever been through, never want to experience that kind of pain again, therapy was for 3 months, 3 times a week, with continued therapy on my own afterwards. I still continued to have pain. My doctor gave me a steroid injection which helped with the pain for about 3 weeks, felt like a normal person, then the pain and stiffness came back, had terrible burning pain that radiated from my axillary to my elbow, pain got worse with activity and lying flat, went back to doctor, was given another injection in my bicep tendon, it helped for about 2 weeks, pain returned, went back to doctor because burning pain is not getting better, option for tenodesis has been recommended but I have not made the decision to go ahead with it, I have range of motion but it is becoming painful especially with lifting objects, some objects small as a cup or glass of water. What should I do, has anyone experienced what I been through had success with the tendons is procedure?
Hi Scott! Thanks for the writings about your experience! I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one suffering my head off with this surgery! It will be 4 weeks tomorrow post surgery for me. I think they are going to tell me to take off the sling tomorrow. Kinda scared, because I’ve heard of people re-tearing their muscles accidently reaching for something. The PT has been unbelievably painful. How are you doing now? Any tips? 🙂 Sincerely, Jim
I am a 56 year old female and am 4 weeks post surgery today for a small rotator cuff repair on right arm (dominant arm), removal of bone spur, and repair of frayed bicep tendon due to bone spur. I am still in my sling, but my doctor’s nurse and PA told me early on that I could remove it if just hanging around the house. So I have taken mine off and on several times a day and feel it has helped with not getting too stiff. Like many others, sleeping has been difficult for more than 3-4 hours a stretch. I have found sleeping on the couch easier than propping up in bed as pillows tend to slide down in bed. After first week I’ve only used one pain med a day just before bedtime. I’ve been doing pendulum swings and some assisted external rotation exercises (using a long wooden spoon) since day after surgery, and used ice every 2 hours for 20 min. for first week. Still ice if I feel achy. Some days I’m stiffer than others, but feel the pain has dropped off substantially over the past week. I look forward to starting PT at week six and will also return to work as a legal secretary at week six. I’ve actually had more pain in bicep muscle than shoulder and that is why releasing from the sling some during the day helps and I find that if I very gently massage the muscle it relaxes. Have not driven since surgery and because I have a long commute from suburbs to busy metro midtown, I plan on driving backroads for a while to avoid all the crazies on the interstate 🙂 October is a beautiful month to be off of work so I’ve taken advantage of the mild days by getting out and taking walks; it helps with the mood for sure and I think even helps with the pain management. This is one of the most helpful blogs I’ve found so far and is a reminder that everyone heals at different levels, and your mental attitude will play a big role in that healing. It is a long slow recovery, but use the time to enjoy some downtime and get outdoors if weather permits, if only sitting outside in a lounge chair. Good luck to you all in your recovery processes.
OK, I am still interested in reading here and updating. If I can help encourage anyone, I sure want to. I wrote at 19 days out and then again I think at 8 weeks. Jim, you are so right. It is really painful and it doesn’t get over with quickly. The sling is about the worst part and trying to sleep. It will feel so good to get it off but don’t be suprised (or scared) when you get it off if it seems like the pain starts getting worse for a little while. I was afraid something was wrong because the progress went backwards for a little. Well, your arm hasn’t met with gravity in a while. When you get the sling off it will. At that point my fingers even started getting numb. Seems there is an ulnar nerve that got inflamed too , happens frequently but I wasn’t very informed. My doctor wasn’t very good at talking to me. But let me assure you it all get’s better. I am at 5 months out now and it really is like it never happened. I know I need to be a little careful for the first year. I am so free of pain that I have to remind myself not to pull, or pick something heavy up. All in all, it was one of the worst experiences ever but in the end I had a good result. So just hang in there everyone. So many times I thought something must be wrong and I would never be the same again , but here I am. The most important thing I can say to you is “Do your therapy” Full range of motion is what you are aiming for. Good luck.
Thank you for your encouragement, Karen. How long did it take before the pain subsided? So glad to know it was worth it in the end for you.
Paula, don’t judge your progress day by day. You will have good days followed by bad days. Expect uncomfortable pain for a while, maybe even 2 or 3 months. Ice is your best friend. No more than 20 minutes at a time and be sure to put something between the ice pack and skin. I love this sight because I was not properly prepared for what to expect and thought so many times something must be wrong. It’s a slow process and like the nurse told me “You can’t make it faster, I can’t make it faster, Your doctor can’t make it faster. It’s a slow process” God bless and good luck. Do your therapy exactly as you are instructed. No more and no less.
Had my pre-op appointment yesterday and surgery is scheduled for Monday morning. I’ll share my experience as soon as I’m able.
Good Luck Jeff —-keep us posted!
Hi, everyone! I am a 42 yr old male and just had my outpatient (arthroscopic) surgery yesterday to repair a completely torn rotator (the supra). Although I have played many sports, and I am quite active, this was my first surgery, and first time going under anesthesia. I did lots and lots of research prior to my surgery and found this blog to be a good place to share my experience thus far, and offer whatever suggestions I can to help anyone else having to go through with a similar procedure. I am a relatively big guy (only sharing so that you understand some of our unique differences and how your experience might differ or compare) 6’4, 242 pounds. I believe I have a relatively high tolerance for pain, but I was certainly nervous prior to surgery. Surgery was actually very simple, about 2 hours in surgery (anchors and bone spur removal, 3 incisions although they told me it could be up to 5). 30 mins in phase 1 recovery room (to wake up), and then 1 hour in phase 2 ( my wife was able to join me at this point for crackers/ginger ale/powerade). Some questions that might help you:
Scalene block? Should you have one?:
This nerve block might be offered by the anesthesiologist. It is basically a shot into a bundle of nerves close to your collar bone (rather large needle) that, “kills the arm” for up to 24-48 hours. You will have no feeling in your arm post op during this 24 hour period. My surgeon highly recommended it, but I actually declined it. My reasons: Additional risk of permanent nerve damage, drooping face, infection where injected (all VERY low risks, but as I mentioned earlier, I handle pain relatively well). If I am going to have high pain that slowly decreases with care, I want to start at the height of that pain to understand improvement. The alternative is waiting 24 hours and then perhaps being hit with a lightning bolt of pain (take your meds well in advance!!). The choice is yours and I am happy I decided against it, but most people seem just as happy with the block. Do your homework.
I will post additional questions/answers as I am doing this from my CPM machine, 6-8 hours a day, so I have some spare time! 🙂 More to follow…please feel free to ask any questions.
To sleep or not to sleep?:
As I mentioned, I have only had one night of this thus far, but as everyone seems to agree, it’s a bit challenging. I tried keeping the ice cuff on as I slept but it just seemed to add 5 more things poking and pulling that kept me awake. Simple ice packs serve just as well…just don’t put them directly on skin. Your chair of choice is absolutely critical. I had moved a recliner into our bedroom a few days before surgery. I quickly learned after several hours of squiggling with pain that my chair was not ideal. Here is why:
Make certain that your repaired arm can hang 100% on the sling! NOT the arm of the chair or pillows or anything else. The sling (while annoying) is to protect and take the weight off of the repaired shoulder.) Even the slightest of pressure upwards on the sling will soon cause some serious discomfort.
I found the ideal solution at 4:30am and slept just fine after that.
We have a leather love seat that reclines on both sides. If you have something similar, use it! Sit on whatever side is opposite your repaired arm. My surgery was on the right shoulder, so I sat with my good arm on the left arm rest, and my recovering arm hanging 100% by the sling. Within 10 mins the pain subsided, and I slept relatively pain free. Some recliners are deep and you sink into them. If you do not have a love seat or reclining couch, add some pillows/blankets to the seat to get your arm into the sling and NOT on the arm rest. I think you will find this much more comfortable.
To me, the first few nights have been like sleeping in a straight-jacket.
Scalene block revisited:
One more additional note on the scalene block and whether or not to have it? Since I opted not to have the block, I was given some morphine in my phase 2 recovery room which lasted nearly 6 hours after we left the Hospital. Note: the scalene block may only last 10 hours, but it can last beyond 24 hours. My point is, if you are in post op pain and still in the recovery room, tell the nurse your pain level is 7 or higher, and you will most likely get a friendly little bump of pain relief without the additional risks associated with a nerve block. I was very comfortable on the drive home. So much so, I asked my wife to stop at Starbucks for a frappucino. (Your throat will be a little sore from the anesthesia/breathing tube for a few days. Just treat it like any other sore throat. It’s not too bad.)
Still checking back here now and then to have a read of everyones comments.
Great to see everyone updating on progress from several months ago.
I had my surgery back in early Jan & again in early July.
Nearly 4 months ago now. Feeling good and recovered quickly. Completed my half marathon today since the surgery.
Still get the odd ache and pain from the shoulder and of course it is worse when running.
I have however been running since about week 4 after surgery (at doctors instruction) so i don’t consider it to be that bad.
Still hope that given a few more months the aches and pains will completely disappear.
Wow! is all I can say at this point.. Having my left shoulder repaired tomorrow morning. I am a Military Recruiter under a ton of ‘new boss’ pressure and worried how this is going to impact my job. Ive had abdominal and hernia surgeries and those went well, but this sling thing has me worried. I am not very patient with healing and tend to push the envelope. If I had read this before tonight, I probably wouldnt have the surgery. Thanks to all that have posted their sufferings! I will update as I can on my procedure and progress.
Wow! This site is wonderful. Found it by googling about driving post-surgery (just scheduled for November 27th). But all of the additional information is overwhelmingly helpful. I am also a writer who has deadlines, so was very interested in reading what other writers’ experiences were (especially since I have to talk to my boss tomorrow about the surgery). I’d rather exceed his expectations of my full return to productivity, so I am going to be very conservative in my timeline. Does the following sound reasonable?
– two weeks at home, followed by another 4-6 weeks in offive with sling and twice/thrice weekly physical therapy for an additional couple of months?
I will work hard in pre-surgery weeks to get ahead of deadlines, etc. But it sounds like the beginning of the year before I get close to my normal productivity. Will also start working now w mouse on left side of keyboard so I get used to it!
My surgery on 10/22 went well. I opted for the block and had no negative issues. I agree with an earlier post that you want your arm fully supported by the sling. The arm of the recliner can elevate your shoulder and cause additional discomfort. I spent much of the first night proped up on the sofa so my arm could hang free. A friend loaned me an Iceman cold therapy machine that has been my greatest blessing. I was instructed to keep my shoulder iced continuously for the first 48 hrs. and it helped to not have to continuously switch out ice packs.
I removed the bandage yesterday and was able to shower for the first time. I have 3 incisions and a lot of bruising.
I go for my follow-up on 10/30 and begin PT on 11/1. In the meantime, I’m removing the sling and doing gentle pendulum swings several times a day.
I’ll provide another update after my first PT session.
Take care, everyone.
I am able to try life without the sling in a few days. How do I sleep in the bed like a regular human? I sleep on my side but since surgery I have only slept in the recliner on my back. My back is not an option in a bed so I need to know how to lay on my side and not feel like my arm weighs a hundred pounds. I swear this sling has almost been the death of me…looking so forward to life without it!
Hi Cindy. I hear ya. The sling added as much discomfort as the pain. They call it a little “pillow” between your body and arm. It feels more like a block of wood during the day and a brick at night. I just want to encourage you. It gets lots better once you are rid of the sling. I am 5 months out and it’s like it never happened. There were times I was sure the surgery had ruined me for life! But my surgeon did a good job, I just wasn’t properly prepared as to what to expect (thank God for this website). My best advice is to follow all your instructions and be faithful with your therapy. God Bless and good healing.
Thank you Karen. I am doing my best
Something you may or may not be interested in. I found out that the slings cost $150.00. Our orthopedic department will take any donated ones, clean them up, and give them to people who don’t have insurance. Might be something you would like to check into. I just mentioned that I couldn’t wait to throw mine away when they told me they would welcome them back for people with no insurance. Just a thought.
I’ll be two weeks post-op this coming Monday. Had my first PT session this past Thursday and it actually felt good. I was really dreading it, but they were very gentle and it felt good to work some of the stiffness out. I know it will get tougher and more difficult as I progress through the various phases. The sling is a beast… I’m getting about five hours sleep and waking about three times during the night. The pain has not been bad, I’m just uncomfortable.
Had my rotator cuff tear repair on 25th Oct 2012 ,by prof Levy at the Reading
shoulder unit in UK , op went fine and also had the injection of my own blood into
the tendon area during the op which aids the healing process . They take your blood
wiz it around a centrifuge and extract the parts of the blood which do this .Its a new
thing iam told not yet ratified by our NHS so my health insurance didn’t pay for this part. Since the day after the op when i had a bit of pain ,so took a couple of pain killers
mild ones ,I’ve been pain free ,hope my sling will be off in 3 weeks as my tear was a small one . Sleeping no probs so far , hope to be back on the tennis court soon as pos
Graham Birmingham UK
I will be 2 weeks post op tomorow. I had my first PT session Nov 1, and I agree, it felt good to get a little of the stiffness worked out for awhile. Looking forward to more progress there. My wife bought me a shoulder Ice pouch holder thing and it works great, almost too cold at times. I have begun working out, stationary bike, very light weights (probably too soon, but I cant help it). Work is a pain, as the majority of my work (interviews, etc) take place in the early evening and thats when the pain is really kicking in. ugh! It really is a day by day process. Having to continually remind your boss that your in a limited condition get old as well.
Some more info-ended up with five holes in shoulder, used the nerve block and am very glad I did, no problems other than whats listed on this site. Seems to me the pain meds never really hit the pain, more that they allowed me to sleep.
Good luck everyone! One day at a time!
I am lucky to have the time to recover at home. It has been 5 weeks and going back in a week. Give you credit for sucking it up 🙂
Hello – 9 October I had arthro surgery to correct left shoulder injury. Involved removal of a bone spur and repair of a frayed and torn supraspinatus tendon. My surgeon commented “90%” of the rotator cuff injuries he sees are of this type.
My first phys therapy appt is later today…I understand it will be passive range of motion only, for awhile.
Have had very little pain and able to sleep. Judging from other comments here, I have been fortunate.
I was advised against surgery by some folks saying, at 71 you are too old to benefit. My surgeon said, not so.
Scott, Awesome site I’m 71 also, I agree the sling is the most troubling part of the process. Learning to live with it makes it better.
I’m a 27 year old single mother of two sons. One of which is Toddler. He’s not even 3 years old yet. I’m supposed to have surgery on my shoulder in the next week our so because of frequent dislocations over the past fifteen years. How am I going to be able to adequately care for my toddler without the use of both arms? My bad shoulder is on my dominant side! I’m left handed, and in a sling right now and have been ordered to wear this sling unless bathing or dressing. My ten year old can’t help much because he simply refuses to. I have little help, what do I do?
For the first few weeks you WILL need help. I had two bad arms, only one operated on and without my husband, I would have been in bad shape. I strongly advise you find someone to stay with you for a while
Exactly! You are absolutely right. Here’s another doozy…..when I said my ten year old son refuses to help, it’s because he has oppositional defiant disorder and so most of the time he doesn’t do anything he is told to do. He is very hostile and gets physically violent on a daily basis and although we have in home therapy for him, his therapists cannot be with us every waking moment. Now that I need surgery, I can only do half of what I would normally be able to do as far as discipline goes and things will be a million times worse, I just know it! Ugh. My family used to give me their help, but now they don’t because my son is too much for them to handle for more than an hour. YES, HIS BEHAVIOR IS THAT BAAAD! This is why i’m pretty much freaking out about it. Nobody will stay with me either because they can’t or they simply just refuse. Wtf? ! They also will not agree to let my son stay with them. I’m not a bad parent and everyone knows that, it’s just how God made him. Anyway, i’m getting very sick of literally begging my friends and family to help me. I do everything on my own. I’m worried my son will do further damage to my shoulder during recovery. I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE! And soon!
I dislocated my arm 5 months ago, and since I am still in pain will do surgery in 2 months since I can’t take time off before that. I was reading the blog and your story touched me. How did you do with the surgery, and your son? It takes a lot of patience to be a parent! I have 2 daughter over 20 but the older one was not very obedient. A challenge! I have a friend whose some is 11 and very hostile! Would be interested in your progress! Mary
Hey all. Great site. Went back for 1st post op visit with Doc 3 days ago. Can’t start PT for another 8 days which makes 17 total days between operation and start of PT. Told to still wear sling and limit motion, but the best news was he told me that I could get in my HOT TUB and let my arm hang free. Oh! if you have access to a Heated Tub this is a wonderful way to gain pain relief for a little while anyway. I get in at before showering in the morning and after I get home from work and again before going to bed.
I was hurt at work Jan 18-2012 and still fighting with workmens comp 10 months later. Because I had a stint put in in May now they are going to make me wait another 6 months before I can have it done. I was told I have to go back to work the very next day. I was reading all the remarks but not once did I see any thing about how much time people have off. I am a manager of a dollar store and we are stocking and lifting all day long. As most said I have been in a recliner sence this happen I cant sleep on my left side any more. Any thing will help Thank you
Everyone is different and depending on what you do and where you work will determine that. I do desk work and the doctor said 4-6 weeks. I will be going back just shy of 7 but they had to do a large cut in front so it was a bit more complicated. If I had a lifting job, this would not be enough time. I am on short term disability but I know not everyone has that. Hope that helps you
Diffrent states have different laws, here in CA I went through employment development and was given temporary disability for 5 months. There is also FMLA (family leave).
right shoulder was done november of 2011 and left shoulder is being done in 4 days on the 27th.
Hope the information helps.
judy i am fighting work comp to.they wanted me bk in 12 days. my problem is going to bathroom without help.they are the rudest people.
Hi, I had a bony spur removed, and a minor rotator cuff repair carried out 5 days ago on my right (dominant shoulder). My surgeon hadn’t really planned to do the repair but it was bigger than he thought so did do it. I have a sling but it doesn’t sound as restrictive as people describe which is a bit worrying. I have a bit of pain but not too bad and I am able to sleep in bed no trouble. My biggest problem is that I have a disability. I usually use 2 sticks to walk in my house and a wheelchair outdoors. I am not steady enough to walk with one stick and can’t use my stick in my right hand. So I have had to bring my wheelchair into the house and try to push it around with one arm, so I have one useable limb now!!! I can push my wheelchair by pushing with one stick on the floor like paddling a boat, and can carefully move from my chair to bed, toilet, comfy chair if I have my wheelchair very close. I have a wet floor shower but it isn’t safe for me to shower alone. Ive had my husband or daughter home but tomorrow will be on my own during the day. All a bit of a nightmare, wish me luck !!!
Ihad my op three weeks and two day,s ago for a tear and bone spur impingement.Ihad played sqosh for 35 years,which may have caused the problem to my right shoulder,after trying physio and three cortisone shots,that done me no good, Iwas having lots of pain and many sleepless nights,my doctor referred me to a surgeon.He said that I could keep taking the pain killers,or have the operation.I had read about the operation,and new what was involved. For the first week Idid find it difficult to sleep,Irelied on pain killers,I do my pendulum exercises,and find these help. By the end of my second week Iwas managing to get a better sleep,and cut down on my painkillers.The sling can be annoying,but its there for a reason.I start my physio in six days and Ithink thats when the hard work will start.Before this operation Iwas in constant pain with my shoulder,Ifeel this has eased a great deal.I am glad that I found this site,and have enjoyed reading some of your comments.
Different people need different amounts of time to recover. I am a 53 year old Physical Education teacher. I had surgery on a Monday and went back to work on Friday. However, I can let my students set up the needed equipment for my classes. If I had a job that required lifting, I feel that I would have to miss at least 3-4 weeks. I go for my 1st therapy tomorrow. Can’t wait to get this thing moving again and out of the sling. It’s been 17 days and I have very little pain now. Pain will probably start again with therapy. As I said in another post, the HOT TUB has really helped with pain. The water is 104 degrees and I stay in it about 10 minutes. There is almost no pain by the time I get out of the Tub. It does slowly stiffen back up.
Monday will be four weeks since my surgery and I had my follow-up with the surgeon today. He said I could come out of the sling. Hallelujah!!! He said it would still be a good idea to wear it when I’m in large crowds or doing anything that might cause me to over-reach. He said that there’s still a whole lot of healing that needs to happen on the inside and that I really need to baby it for the next month at least. I’ve had four therapy sessions that have not been too bad. The last one was the worst… I think the physical therapist has now become the physical terrorist.
Hi Jeff, looks like we are both at the same stage,of the healing process.Ihad my first physio yesterday morning,one of the movements that he gave me, involved while lying on the couch I supported my operated shoulder arm with my good shoulder arm and tried to move it over my head, I felt very uncomfortable, and was worried that it was going to tear again,Iwas more worried about this ,than the pain Iwas going through,ive read stories about anchors coming loose. Ihave been given a set programme to work with in the house,and this exercise still worries me at such an early stage of the healing process.How is your range of movement coming along,is driving not a problem.Iam a singer musician, and thankfully got back to playing guitar after the first three weeks after the operation,but I will have to cancel quite a lot my gigs with my band,as we have to drive far out of town and the equipment being very heavy to carry.I liked your remark about the physio terrorrist.Istill dont regret having the op,as I said before, I was in lots of pain before it. Regards, Peter
Its been 4 1/2 weeks since surgery, and man oh man, the pain never goes away. In my case, if I had it to do over again, I wouldnt. At least pre op I could sleep with a few advil and perform at near 100%. Phys. Therapy hurts and flares up the pain even worse. The inability to do normal stuff is the most frustrating thing. Thank goodness its been a mild start to snow season cuz, I wouldnt be able to shovel it at all. Almost out of pain meds and not sure doc will prescribe more.
Good lluck to all.
Robert, I was like that at 4 weeks. I am starting week 8 and yes, there still is a lot of discomfort now and I can finally feel and see a little improvement. I have the added pain of the other arm being totally useless and probably needing the same and cannot take aleave, advil or anything like that due to stomach issues. I have been lucky to have had the pain refills, mostly because of the above reason but also I was cut quite a bit. Not the simple operation we thoughht I would have. Hoping you too will find it getting better as the weeks progress
Hi everyone.Surgery on Nov 7,12.Iam not in so much patn as trying to do normal things such as going to bathroom and pulling pants up and down and wiping by myself.im right handed.im no good with left hand but i struggle to try and use it for everything.workmans comp wants me back to work now what do i do @ work.ask someone to help. this is difficult enough without being harresed by workmans comp.also my dr told me pt would start in 6 weeks but because of work comp i started a week ago. this is very painful.also i cant drive.the law in Virginia is if you are involved in a car accident whether its your fault or not and your arm is in a sling and someone dies i could be charged with reckless driving and could face 15 years in prison for manslaughter.i asked work comp to provide transpotation and they are really being rude and obnoxious.with all that im going thru i have to deal with all this emotional stress to..any sugestions from anyone would help.i hope no one has to deal with work comp.i was working 2 jobs when i got hurt @ my full time job.i was hurt on Sept 13 so 4 days later i had to quit my part time job,so im being ruined finnacially on top of all this.any sugestions.
I am a 68 year old male five weeks post op from arthroscopic Bicep Tenodesis and doing well. The first several weeks I had great difficulty sleeping even in a recliner. Had a shoulder block(would recommend) that wore off 8-10 hours after the surgery, and was on Percocet for about 80 hours post op. Have not take anything other than an occasional 400 to 600 mg. of ibuprofen. I started with a wonderful physical therapist three days after my surgery. It was the best decision I made other that my Surgeon. I have been driving(without the sling) since week four. However, I still wear the sling most of the time. I am still wearing the sling to sleep, and have returned to my bed. I do need a sleep aid or it would be difficult. I will be starting the active phase of my rehab in a few more days. I fully expect to be back on the golf course in a few months. The three most important decisions you will make are:
1. 1. To have the surgery
2. 2. Pick a surgeon who does this as an outpatient arthroscopic procedure
and does many of them every week.
3. 3. Spend a little time before your procedure to interview and choose your physical therapist. They are your most important tool on your road to recovery after the surgery…..
Do your homework….and good luck….
Hi, I am 7 months out and if you read my other posts you will see that I was just like most of you guys. It was probably one of the worst experiences of my life as far as pain. Sling was awful, therapy hard, and my doctor didn’t tell me much about what to expect. I was sure I had nerve damage because nothing could hurt that much for so long. Elbow hurt and fingers were numb ( ulnar nerve) Sleeping was impossible. Well, like I said it’s 7 months out and it’s like nothing happened. Pain is gone, and all is back to normal. Hang in there guys. If you do your therapy all will be well, if you don’t then you won’t have full range of motion. Good luck. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Hi. Didn’t quite know where to chime in. Ten years ago had shoulder manipulation surgery for frozen shoulder and rotator cuff and labrum repair. Recovery went well. Had pain pump, great therapist, although was in therapy six months post op. full rom restored no pain. Two months ago fell and fractured left arm, impacted fracture at proximal surgical neck. Wore sling or five weeks. Ladies, don’t wear bras while I. Sling, get some camisole with built in support. Worked well and cu down on changes. Wore loose pullovers and sweat pants or pajama pants. Not too stylish but able to navigate! Now am I. Third week of PT, doc wants eight weeks, then MRI, then possible cuff repair and/or partial shoulder replacement. Anyone had this. This shoulder thing cutting into travel plans!
I’ll chime in here about the bra….
I was rather worried about it because I’m large chested – and I’m job hunting – so it was an important issue for me as a camisole with support would not work for a job interview! At any rate, for the first week when I needed to go out in public, I used a strapless bra, not the greatest support – but definitely better than none!
But the secret here is baby powder! The trick is to put the powder on your hand and then your torso before you try to put on your bra (I know, hard with only one hand – ask for help, use your mouth to hold the container or figure it out!) then, once you snap the bra in front of you and twist it around – it will slide better with the talc!
The second week I actually had a job interview! And I managed to get into my regular bra all by myself! You’ll have to try to stretch the strap down as much as possible to get your bad arm in, then the other, and then scoot it up on to your breasts. So it helps to have straps that stretch or get a bra that the straps unhook in the front… However, depending on what was done to your arm, It might be hard to snap it in front so you may need help. I did not have someone that I felt comfortable putting me into a bra… so one of the times, I managed to place myself into the strapless (I actually faced the wall and had the wall hold one side while I worked the other and then I asked my friend to hook me in back).
It really went much easier than I thought… but I was very ready to get out of it when I got home because my back muscles really tightened up.
Hope that helps some of you.
Thank you to all of you for the great information, but I want to back things up and hear about how some of you were diagnosed, On August 30th I had a ATV accident and injured my right shoulder, I knew something went wrong the moment it happend, I went to the hospital in tremendous pain and they did xrays and found no tears, I went home and for the next week my pain was exactally the same, I went back the hospital and they did more xrays and ultrasound, again they found no tears but alot of inflamation, and was told it was a second degree muscle sprain, it has been almost 3months and the pain is still very strong and I can only lift my arm to my chest, I am very very active person, I work out every day as my past career was a personal trainer, and now I work in law enforcement, I have been unable to work due to this problem as the pain is uncontrolable and my mobility has become so limited with lack of strength. I have went to a physiotherapist and she told me it sounded like a labrum tear?, I am scheduled for a anthrogram on December 10th to see the true reason for the problem, I am very scared that the amount of time that its taking to diagnosis has done more damage to this problem. Can any of you tell me if you had the same type of injury and symptoms and if so what did they find ? and what did they do for you? Thanks
An MRI is what diagonised mine. Make a call to an orthopedic
5 weeks post op for me. Was just wanting to know how easy it was to reinjure the repairs that were done inside? I.e. was putting on shorts and lost balance so I jumped to regain balance..this hurt the shoulder..can this shock to the shoulder from the jump reinjure it?
I was told by my P/T person that the repair is like tissue paper for several months….and you have to be very careful. I would imagine if you actually tore the repair you would know it. More than likely, you strained it causing some increased inflamation. Be very careful until you have moved into the weight training phase of your rehab…..Good Luck….
Will be very easy to irritate and flare up the repair site for several months after.
You would certainly be aware if you had a retair.
I had good weeks and bad weeks with mine dependent on my activity levels and lifting carried out and i am still sore at 5 months out.
I am working on strengthening the area as it is still too weak to cope with the arm actions of my daily running.
I am noticing improvements but this is by far the longest rehab i have had from any injury.
I had my surgery July 23, 2012 for a 100% tear and still am recovering. I am 61 years old and this was my first surgery so I didn’t know what to expect. Everything went so fast in the beginning that I thought it was going to be a quick recovery. Now that I am done with therapy I feel that I am going backwards. I started having more pain than I have felt in a long time. My doctor says that I am just using muscles that haven’t been used in a long time and that everything is fine. Everything I do seems to bother me but I do it anyway because I need to get my strength back. Has anyone else had this long of a recovery with this pain?
Well…I guess my problems were more than I originally thought. I had another MRI on Dec 28th and found out that my shoulder is torn again. Looks like I will be scheduling another surgery in a few months. I asked if I could wait 6 months to see if it could heal by itself since it is a partial thickness tear but my doctor said that wouldn’t be a good idea to wait that long. At this point I am not sure what my plans are. Has this happened to anyone else??
I had an injury to shoulder in march 2012. Partial tear to supraspinatus.Refused surgery. lost 90 % of motion/ pain and more pain. 5 cortisone shots, three helped. Two caused bad side effects didn’t work. Hi- powered pain meds, put my blood pressure at stroke levels 180/110. Had to come off them immediately. Still rehabbing, using all types of natural remedies for inflammation and pain.( Deer Velvet,) check this out really helps, brolmaine, vitamins and minerals. Juicing diet, tachyon products, inferno wrap from mend me shop, ice bags golore. Use moltrin 800mg if pain level gets to bad. So far I have achieved 50% of range of motion back.
still in pain in rehab. I would be doin the same rehab if I had surgery. Maybe it takes longer to rehab I don’t know. But I am determined to get my shoulder back to as normal as possible(without surgery)
For everyone who chooses surgery God bless you. I know God is going to give me the help and patience to heal.
WC held back on rehab to start.
because doc wanted surgery. Finally approved rehab after 3 months
When I kept refusing surgery. In rehab 7 months still progressing ,
With great rehab therapist and moral support. By the grace of God I
Will be well again.
I hear you! I just had the surgery twice in a two week period (screw came out of bone first time). the meds (celebrex) raised blood pressure and I got very sick. stopped all precsription painkillers (had to for my own sanity, cant handle opiates), now just using ice and ibuprofen and much prayer. Glad to hear of your determination and patience. I am learning to let go which is very hard and painful lesson for me.
Next Monday the 10th of Dec. will start my first day of strengthening PT. I have learned a lot over the last 6 weeks since surgery and am improving daily. I used HOT TUB many times during the first 6 weeks just to get pain relief. Also, ice has been my best friend since starting Range of Motion PT. It is a lot easier to pop a pill in your mouth for pain than it is to spend the time to get in the TUB or ice your shoulder and elbow for 15 mins after stretching. Believe me, it is worth it to take the time. I get in the TUB in the morning for 10 mins and stretch my arm out while in the TUB. Then I get out and ice it for 15 mins while watching morning news before taking a shower. This gets you started on a good note for the day and really helps to keep down inflammation. I do the same thing again when I get home from work except I do a complete stretch of all PT Range of Motion exercises that the therapist has given me after 10 mins in the TUB. Then ice for 15 mins. while watching TV. I do mild stretching in the TUB again before going to bed and ice for 15 min. I have had very little trouble with pain and have avoided taking Meds. My biggest problem has been waking up at times during the night in pain from holding my arm in one position for too long. I found that simply sliding my arm across the covers similar to sliding it out across the table when you do your range of motion stretches relieves the pain after a few minutes and I am able to go back to sleep. I just have to STRETCH IT OUT! I have found that being lazy gets you nowhere fast with this rehab. If you are in pain you need to stretch and if there is to much inflammation to get a good stretch you need to ICE and get the inflammation down so you can stretch. Good luck and I will post again after my first round of strengthening.
I just found I have a supraspinatous tear 4-9mm with good quality of torn edge. It s left shoulder and I am right and, thank God. I am 60 but a very active 60. I just finished my first triathlon season so I run, cycle, swim and weight train. I am also a nurse and watched my husband as recovered from rotator cuff surgery on each shoulder so I know the pain, limitation, pt and all from that perspective. My concern is I am training for my first half marathon and I see a loss of the entire 2013 season. I am worried about hw soon I can training in all sports again without fear of causing damage to repaired shoulder. I am setting my bike up on a trainer indoors and I have a treadmill. That will help. I do personal twice a week and he work on my legs as I recover but I need to get there and how soon enforce I can. I worry I will feel like a cranky caged animal until I can be active again. Anyone else have a similar experience? My surgery won’t be scheduled until early January. I also worry hw soon I can wield a curling iron and raise both arms to do my hair? What about a bra? I am a 40 D so I need to tether the girls up but how do I even get it on? Input from the ladies is appreciated. Also, what specific shirts work best post op? Stretchy cami? Would workout capris be doable? Thanks for you advice!
Restarted running 5-6 mile a day from week 3/4 after anchor and suture rotator cuff surgery at surgeons direction.
It was very sore and uncomfortable and it did burn initially which has got better very slowly as the months have passsed.
Still soreness during and after every single run at 5 months this week.
I completed my first half marthon after surgery at approx 3 months although after 10-13 miles the shoulder began to become quite uncomfortable.
Surgeon and physio state that the lack of strength in the cuff is what causes the irritation and strengthing is the key to the recovery. Still pleased with my progress so far.
I can’t comment on the training for the triatholon — but I give you my experience on the grooming and clothing challenges! It took about 8 weeks before I could get my arm up enough to brush my hair — I had a “handband” style for the first 2-3 months. As for the bra — I wore bandeau bras (no straps) for about 10 weeks — if your are 40D — that’s probably not the best option for you! I also wore a lot of lose tops — and anything that buttoned up the front worked better. You figure out things that work for you — and most people understand that challenges this surgery brings and are very understanding.
9 weeks yesterday. Doctor said wants therapy to push harder. Just starting to sleep in the bed but so uncomfortable and restless that my husband is in another room for the short time. Now setting up MRI for the other arm. Who has had both arms done and what is the time frame between them. It has been extra difficult when both arms hurt but I have been back to work for three weeks. Just wish I had NO pain…what was that again??
I am having rotator cuff surgery next Tuesday December 18. After reading these posts I realize I am not as informed as I should be about post op activities and expected pain. Yikes!!
I live alone and now I am wondering if I should get someone to stay for a couples of days??
Has anyone done this post op part alone?
And the pain! Sounds like the docs aren’t giving strong enough meds.
Any feedback will be appreciated.
I don’t know how I would have done it alone. I highly recommend someone stay with you for at least a week or two if you are able
Had my first session of strengthtening exercises this past Monday at the PT. Everything went great. There is pain when you do the motions, but it feels better after a few minutes and movements get easier. I felt really good when I left. However, I will have to admit that the next morning was a different story. Woke up with a lot of inflammation and pain throughout the night. I got up 3-4 times and did some ROM stretches before being able to go back to sleep. Iced my arm as soon as I got up and 2 times while at work. Did the strengthening exercises after work, but didn’t push myself like I did at PT. Have been icing today and arm feels much better. Can’t wait to get home and push myself again tonight. The PT said after 6 weeks that I could challenge my muscles while doing the exercises that she gave me as much as I could stand. Again, ice and ROM stretches are your best friend. My arm always feels better after stretching it out.
eight weeks tomorrow since my operation,phsio has been going well,Ifind that the stretch bands are helping me to gain some strength back to my shoulder.Ive got myself into a workout routine in the house with them.Ifeel that somedays are much better than others, your shoulder does let you know if you are doing too much,however Iam sleeping quite well at night,Ihad to come of pain meds after two weeks as they were giving me stomache problems.Istarted driving two weeks ago,and Iam starting back work on monday,Iam a support worker,and have to drive a lot.My main worry at the moment,is the weather we get it bad in Scotland at this time of the year,snow and ice,worried in case I lose my ballance and have a fall,that may involve my shoulder.I feel the same as others in this very good forum, is that you have got to keep up your strenghtening phsio in the house,as I think this is the key to success,as this is a surgery that will that requires hard work and patience. Best of luck with your operation Jan and be positive.Regards,Peter.
You are right about your shoulder letting you know if you are overdoing it. It will let you know with inflamation. Ice the shoulder when you feel that it is tight and swollen. It is really easy to tell. Stretch the shoulder as much as possible and as soon as the inflamation goes away, get back on those exercises. Good luck to all.
At the 5 month stage now and just managing to get the soreness under control by doing daily stretches with the band that i should have been doing alot sooner.
As i have been running almost daily i got it into my head that this was enough of a workout of the arm to mean i could avoid the physio stretching.
I have suffered with soreness and inflammation during and after running and even walking for long periods of time.
Interesting that i am gaining relief now from the stretching and strengthening exercises that i had ignored up to now.
This proves how important the strengthing part is in the recovery process.
Healing from Oct 3rd surgery, yesterday was told full tear in other shoulder…not sure knowing what is next is good or bad but a few prayers cannot hurt….
1 week out of surgery for 3 tears on my right shoulder (dominate arm)… I wish I would have found this site before surgery. I would have been more prepared.
Worst part is sleeping…starting walking a couple miles a day a week after surgery which helps.
Jim, its been ten weeks and two days since my shoulder op repaired tendon and decompression.I found in the early stages walking was a great help,and took my mind of the pain.The pain always seemed worse when I went to my bed, most everyone in this forum felt the same,this may continue for a few more weeks,but it will get better,just think of the sleepless nights you had befor your operation,Icertainly did.I have no problem sleeping now at my ten weeks stage,Iam still in some pain,and get worried sometimes if I overstrech.You are in your earliest stages be careful,and take care.
if you have surgery on your dominant arm i would suggst having someone to stay with you for a week or two.
Sorry I sent the wrong email address on my last post so I am sending it again
I have been reading all your posts and found them very helpful. I an scheduled for Rotator Cuff surgery January 9th. I have a complete tear of 2 of the 4 rotator cuffs and a possibly torn labrum. Also, there may be a problem with the Bicep tendon. Prior to my injury I played competitive tennis about 4 times a week. I currently have trouble lifting my arm above my chest without having severe pain so playing tennis is completely out the picture. My concern is whether or not I will be able to play tennis at a competitive level after recovering from surgery. , Do any of you who have had rotator cuff surgery play tennis? If so, how is your shoulder after surgery while playing tennis? Do you recommend having the surgery? thanks
yes to the surgery…..it will not get better without it….make sure you have chosen a Doctor who has done many shoulder surgeries…does them arthroscopic as an out-patient…..before you have the surgery interview several Physical Therapist’s and find one you like and has experience in rehab of this type of surgery…..I am almost 10 weeks and progressing..but it is very slow….I am not currently a tennis player, but I can guarantee that you will never play again without the procedure…
Hi all, I’ve been reading your posts for a few months now. They have been most helpful. I’m 54 years old and took a fall in September 2012 and ended up with a 26mm tear of the supraspinatus tendon. I’ve been in Physio since October and I am scheduled for surgery Jan 10th 2013….approaching fast! I have to admit.. I’m a little scared of going for the surgery but I’m pretty much unable to do anything as it is. My surgeon tells me I definitely need to have the surgery, if I want to do the simple things like throwing a baseball, climbing a ladder or even getting a coffee cup from the cupboard… can’t lift my arm above my shoulder without a lot of pain. I’m self employed in manufacturing and as much as it’s already affected my work, I can’t really afford to take too much time for my recovery.. hoping to be back to light duties and computer work after a couple of weeks.. is that realistic?
you should still be in a sling and sleeping in chair for at least four our five weeks….remember the repair is very fragile for at least the first six weeks…be careful…..
I slept in the recliner for 8 weeks but went back to work after 6.5. I do office work and that is going fine but driving is sometimes tough. I am scheduled for the other arm early April.
Retired teacher. Am 60 years old. Turned and tripped over a backpack, directly behind me (was not there,initially). Happened on Oct 8, Just had surgery yesterday, Jan 3rd, almost three months. Am very glad to be on other side, though I know it is on me to protect the good work my doctor has done!
Damage was: Large rotator cuff tear involving the supraspinatus,
infrasspinatus, as well as a tear along the biceps tendon. MRI had shown that I had a partial tear prior to fall, however I did not have ANY limited mobility, as stated in the MRI. (a rather conclusory/inappropriate statement)
Was told by doctor that he was able to repair completely, but I have to keep it immobile so that it does not re- tear.
In any case, Iam happy to see others ‘ posts and will post how my healing is going from time to time. It requires a high level of patience, at this time!
Take Care,all. Linda
I injured my right (dominant) shoulder at work October 2011 at work, I had massive tear of supraspinatus with muscle retraction. torn superior labrum, completely ruptured bicep, and torn subscapularis. I had outpatient arthroscopic surgery November 2011. My arm did not function at all prior to surgery and the pain was unbearable, although I was not taking anything for it. I was also doing PT to try to keep range of motion going into surgery. The surgery took 4 1/2 hours. Surgery was listed as extensive debridment, extensive bursectomy, repair of massive rotator cuff tears and bicep tenodesis where they reattach the bicep to the humorous. My surgeon said if we had waited a week longer the tears would have been irrepairable. The worst part immediately post op for me was nausea and vomiting from anesthesia…pain was under control…had scalene block and the whole arm numbness was a little disturbing but pain was OK. I took that out at home 36 hours post op as I was having the facial droop, hoarse voice and shortness of breath due to it. Still glad I had it though. I was then on oral pain meds for about a week. I started home passive PT exercises the very next day, painful but to be expected. I started PT appointments 1 1/2 weeks after surgery…again very painful but worth it. My biggest problem is I am stubborn and stopped taking pain meds and also pushed too hard at PT as I wanted to be the one that got range of motion and strength back the quickest…learned the hard way that my body will do what it is going to do…can’t rush it…I had such severe inflammation prior to surgery and then surgery of course caused inflammation and then pushing it too hard at PT and trying to do too much too soon caused continued inflammation that got out of control…my surgeon told me due to my tears it would be a very long recovery…6 months to get back to everyday living and 9 months to year to fully function and up to 2 years for complete healing…I guess he was right (even though I wanted to prove him wrong by getting better quicker…lol)…my pain actually was pretty good all through December…it was mid January that I hit my lowest point…I live by myself, it was winter, I was not allowed to drive and felt trapped in my house…I missed work…I looked forward to PT because I got to have human interactions…I was not allowed to walk my dog for 12 weeks, full time sling and no driving for 8 weeks, part time sling (at night and when leaving house) for an additional 6 weeks….no treadmill for 16 weeks…I was allowed to walk of course just not hold my dogs leash or do it on a treadmill…sleeping was horrible for me as I am a stomach sleeper…I used a recliner and can now say I very rarely sit in it…I don’t think I slept more than an 1 or 2 hours at a time for over 4 months. In PT my range of motion came back rather quickly, but strength building seemed to have the slowest progress despite doing all my exercises assigned to me to do at home. I went to PT appointments twice a week for 7 months before being released to home exercise program…I was off work for 4 months and worked part time for 8 weeks after returning to work before returning full time…I was still in a lot of pain when going back to work but I begged to go back because I needed the distractions. I know this all sounds horrible but it really was not as bad as it sounds…don’t get me wrong, it still sucked and I had my moments but I have a normal life now (I am just over a year out)…sure there are still times when I reach a certain way that it pulls or if I use it a lot it is achy and sore for a few days when it otherwise would not have been but considering I was facing permanent disability without surgery, I can say it is all worth it…I am now having problems with my left shoulder due to overuse during my right shoulder recovery and am hoping it does not progress to needing surgery as I would rather not repeat this but I will if I have too…my surgeon said hopefully it would not be as long as a recovery since the tears do not seem to be as bad. Just remember that everyone is different. That was very hard for me when I felt my recovery was slow and someone would say to me that I must be a wimp because their mother who was 20 years older than me (I am 40) had shoulder surgery and was fine and back working at 6 weeks (came to find out that their mother only had debridment surgery for small tears)…when I would hear those things I would feel judged and push it even harder at PT…don’t get me wrong, PT is hard work and do not expect it to be pain free but allow your body to direct you in your recovery…both my surgeon and Physical therapist encouraged to back off a little and not push so hard to let the inflammation calm down but I kept going full steam ahead which probably ultimately slowed recovering a little…but, the PT did pay off as I have better range of motion and function than my surgeon thought I would have…when pain got bad in January my surgeon ordered deep tissue massage and myofacial release and a TENS unit. The massage hurt really bad at the time but really helped in the long run and the TENS unit became my best friend…I do not like pain meds because they make me sick to my stomach so being able to get pain relief without taking drugs was great…The TENS unit is the best thing ever…it was my saving grace during the rough patches…my surgeon still shakes his head when I tell him the first 6 weeks post op were a piece of cake and then I had my struggles…he said usually it is other way around…I am very thankful that my surgeon was very honest with me and prepared me well for what to expect…he was always very encouraging and would remind me not to judge my recovery based on other’s experiences…every one is different and he would remind me how bad my tears were…he said my bursa was so thick from inflammation he had never seen one that bad and had a horrible time getting it out…to anyone going through this, good luck and be patient…it is a long and frustrating recovery but worth to have a normal life again.
Saw my doc for my first post opt appoint(15 days since surgery).I was hoping I could start re-hab….too soon, I will have to wait until the end of Jan.Things are better…been off meds for 10 days and I can’t wait to loose this” strait jacket” I have to wear!Walking 10 miles a week and can pretty much take care of my self…Thank God my wife works out of the house…those first 6-7 days were rough…Looking to go back to work(semi-desk job) in 3 weeks…I HOPE!!!
you are right about all you said. I was so glad to read your story because it sounded just like me to a tee.i had surgery the first time nov 7 2012 and a major revision surgery july 25 2013. I have been like this since I got hurt on sept 2012.i haven’t had any freedom , haven’t drove in over a year. I have no muscles in my arm yet.went back to work last week. I can only lift 2 lbs.its been really frustrating.
I have a ‘moderate’ tear in my rotator cuff and no pain during the day or night at this point unless I’m lifting or twisting my arm in a weird way. I also have a bursa sac, impingement and a bone spur. Is it possible that I could put this surgery off for a while or would it be better to go ahead and bite the bullet and have it taken care of? I am able to work from home as soon as I can type. Unfortunately this is my right shoulder and my dominant side. Am very concerned about personal daily living skills and the inability to care for myself. I have two trips scheduled – one in March (late) and one in early June. Thoughts?
I am no doctor but here is what I think. I have a complete tear on my right arm and HAVE to wait until at least April as I had surgery on the left in October. If they insist I wait until my left is better healed and I hurt a lot, I suspect you too can wait a while. How long, I have no idea. Only you know. Did you ask the doctor what they thought? I wish you luck in whatever you do
13 weeks tomorrow since my surgery, had an appointment with my surgeon on monday,he said that he was happy with my. r o m,and the strength that I have regained back in my shoulder.I told him that things had been going well, but over the last three weeks I have been having bad neck pain,he said that this is common with shoulder surgery,and should calm down.Just wondering if anyone else in the forum have experienced the same.He told me that I wont have to see him again,and to carry on with my excercises as they seem to be working.He said that carrying anything not too heavy below waistline should be okay,but to avoid lifting anything heavy overhead.He also said that to get my full strength back to my shoulder could take another year or more.Ifind that by the end of my working day my shoulder starts to feel weak with some pain but not too bad.I think it may be the driving, and opening and closing the drivers door from inside that could be the problem,when I get home, I do my excercises with my stretch bands and small weights and this seems to help.Best of luck to everyone.
You seem to be doing well at 13 weeks.
I am at 6 and half months now and only just starting to feel a bit more normal. Indeed i am prepared and expect to wait at least a year to see if this shoulder feels fully healed.
The stretching and bands daily is key to regaining strength. I am reminded daily that i had surgery on that shoulder when doing simple tasks and motions. Good days and bad days.
At your stage i would notice pain when dropping my arm from the steering wheel to my lap when driving altough this has now gone away.
Hang in there as it does indeed get better as each month passes by.
Remember how bad the pain and sleepless nights were before the surgery compared to now!
Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences! I am a total coward 🙂 After getting a second opinion, I am scheduled for surgery next month. Apparently I have anterior acromial spur formation, a 3 cm supraspinatus tear extending into the infraspinatus. Right now I take Mobic 7.5 mg in the AM, and Ultram 50 mg before bed, so the pain is bearable. The surgeons say normalcy is not possible. Can’t pull the string to start weed whacker, lawn mower, type things. Gardening is my therapy and escape, I have been homeschooling for 18 yrs, 6 kids, have 2, 100 lbs dogs, and drive a lot. I’m only 29 with almost 19 years of experience 🙂 So the thought of being taken care of by others is a challenge. Teenagers are not usually the most helpful people I know 😉 Hubby works 6 days a week and will have to deal with me on top of that. At this point, I am feeling like chickening out of the surgery! If it’s not going to return me to normal, what’s the advantage?! Especially when the paper work says there is a possibility of infection, stiffness, and neurovascular injury. Forgive me please for going on so, but I have read everything I could find and this seems to be the one place where you all understand. I want to learn all I can from you! Got the recliner, frozen peas, sweats, haircut, all so I can hopefully function without my dominant right arm. Can you tell I’m also a bit of a control freak and only mildly impatient!? God bless you all in your (not so speedy recoveries!
Did all of you have General Anesthesia for the surgery? Does anyone know if there is another option other than General Anesthesia. I have a real phobia about being intibated and put to sleep. Any suggestions?
I hope you see this note…I just had my second rotator cuff repair in December 2011. I can tell you, that I had my surgery under light anesthesia, where I did not have to be intubated. They do give you medication in your IV, so you are asleep and are not aware of anything being done to you. Your surgery will be done with you sitting straight up.
I was also given a “nerve block” near the shoulder, to keep me from feeling anything. The nerve block numbs the whole arm. This was given after I was “asleep.”
Jim, I too am afraid of general anesthesia. I’ve had surgery many times, Jim, so I was super surprised to now see how the whole process of good anesthetic’s has changed. I did not suffer any nausea post-op, like I usually did and I did not feel groggy after the surgery. They give you medications when the surgery is done, to reverse any anesthesia that was given during surgery. I felt absolutely amazing at how quickly my mind felt clear and how ready I was to go home.
I wish you the very, very best, Jim. I will be having my 3rd and hopefully my last shoulder operation, in about 4 weeks. If the rotator cuff is too far gone this time, I will be having what they call a “reverse total shoulder replacement.” (I also have alot of arthritis in that shoulder) I have been fighting this shoulder problem, since 1980, when I tore my rotator cuff in a car accident. It’s been a long hard road, but I am anxiety free now, with the current anesthesia they now use. Not to worry Jim. Tell your doc about your anxiety and they will give you the medication where you don’t care about anything. Trust me, please.
God Bless you, Jim and I hope for your rapid healing…
I couldn’t have the operation in December as we run a business in Mexico, so the surgeon said I could wait until April when we return. He sent me to a P.T. person who gave me exercises to do every other day for the five months I was away to keep range of motion…only restriction was not to lift my arm overhead at all. I have read all the comments from people and am making a list of what may happen each week after the surgery so I’ll know what to expect. What you all have said has been very helpful to me. Will get back to you in April.
I read your post and I am curious when you actually tore your supraspinatus tendon. Like you, I have a full thickness tear of the supraspinatus tendon, a possibly torn labrum and bicep tendon. I to, am a control freak and dont like relying on other people for help. I injured mine back in July 2012 and still havent had the surgery. I was scheduled for surgery the first week of this month (January) but cancelled last minute due to anxiety of having surgery. How far out is your surgery scheduled?
I honestly don’t know when or how I did the tear. It only really started bothering me in November, but the Dr. said the MRI shows it to be older than 5 years?! I am scheduled for Feb 18th. He wanted to do it sooner, but I had family commitments already planned. The longer I wait the less likely the success 🙁 Hubby won’t let me chicken out, so I’m working on deep breathing to relax my anxiety 🙂 I do have more peace about it since I found a 2nd doctor 🙂 But still, it’s terrifying! If I can do it, you can too 🙂 Good luck!
Suzanne, thanks for the info and encourging words. One last question! What do you mean by, you found a 2nd doctor? Take Care and Good Luck to you!
I just read your original post stating you had a second opinion! Sorry about that!
Dear Scott Thank you for creating this valuable sharing of experience. I found it 2 days before my surgery on 1/22/2013. It was a big help to read other’s stories, I felt more confident and informed after a half hour of reading. My surgeon Dr. Hubbell was great, he called me at home the day after surgery when the fog of anestesia had lifted and gave me great detail of the surgery answering all my questions. The more knowledge we have the better. I had the nerve block and it lasted almost 30 hours.
The only thing I have to add so far is that while the nerve block is still working be very careful to have help changing or adjusting your sling. Your arm will drop like a stone if you don’t have a good hold of it! Make sure you have help that first few days until you know what you can and can’t do alone. I will be back with anything else that may be of help to others on this journey. Mahalo
Had rotator cuff repair and bone spurs shaved 12 days ago and was questioning if I made the right decision until I found this web site. I thought that I was the only one not getting any sleep, an hour or two here and there. I too had a nerve block but it only lasted 12 hours and when it wore off OMG the pain was the worse thing I have ever experienced. I called my Dr. the following day and was reassured that the pain would subside a littlt everyday, which it has. The biggest pain I have now is the sling! I have some discomfort but no actual pain. Haven’t started pt yet, just some shoulder shrugs and pendulum excercises 3x a day. Getting stitches out tomorrow and we’ll see what the next step will be Thanks for the blog, it has lifted my spirits knowing that everything I’m experiencing is “normal”.
I had surgery on 10/02/12 after Surgeon tryed all other avenues to ease pain in Left Shoulder, MRI showed a tear in the Left Shoulder only option per Dr. was sugery to repair the tear.As with most of all the people who undergo this surgery the first month or so is VERY DIFFICULT…Sleeping,Pain,Meds,Showering,Dressing,etc.etc. In my 14th weekof P/T which is once a week for an hour and VERY IMPORTANT to do the exercises given to you by the therpist at home(Dont’t neglect DO THEM ). I have been a advid golfer for over fifty-two years and this was a sure cause of the rotator injury due to the stress the swing places onthe rotator muscle. My range of motion is improving slowly each week and hope to get backto golf soon with more therapy and strength exercises. Again as other people have stated Do what your Dr. and Therapist tell you to do and it will work out for you…..Good Luck and hang in there…….
My turn to join the club! I must admit reading all your stories is both frightening and encouraging seeing what you all are/have experienced with this procedure. We will help each other to get through this.
BACKGROUND: I’m 54 and play mostly tennis and swim now though I was a weekend warrior my entire life. The tear started a year ago and progressively got worse to the point that I did an MRI and had a cortisone shot in Sep 2012. The doctor I was referred to for my shoulder had a 5 week wait (does that mean he is good and is in high demand??) so I went to my old knee doctor Sharks orthopedic) since he could get me in right away and would give me the cortisone shot which I needed because we were doing a group trip to AZ for five days of tennis and fun. The MRI showed a small tear and bone spur. Five minutes after the shot I could raise my arm over my head pain free. I’ve had cortisone before twice for my elbow and it worked everytime. In Oct I was lifting weigts at the gym and I could feel my rotator tear while doing bench press. I tend to do lighter weights with more reps so the weight was not that much. I think because of the cortisone the pain was not too bad but I could feel the rip and my shoulder went numb. I think it was hanging by a thread there. I could still swim though every stroke hurt and I could tell that I changed my stroke to elleviate the pain. The final straw was early December we did a group hike and ended up on the beach and played some volleyball. Stupid me after having a beer or two I got out there. Anything low I could get but honestly it all hurt. Then a ball quickly went to my right side and I instictavely went to get it and that was the end and I immediately fell to my knees. The next day I made an appt with my shoulder guy (49er orthopedic) and again it was a five week wait. I asked them to put me on the waiting list in case of a cancellation and that I would even go sit in the waiting room in case someone didn’t show that day if I had to. Sad to say five weeks later I finally had my appt.
DIAGNOSIS: It was decided that another MRI was not required and that after his tests and viewing the old MRI that surgery was needed. He would remove bone spur, shave off the bone, clean up the area a explore what exactly is wrong and fix it which I was fine with and consented.
SURGERY: Performed Jan 23, 2013 at Stanford Hospital. Arrived at 7:30AM, surgery at 9AM and was hoping to be released around 1PM but I was in pretty bad pain so they gave me a nerve block (epiderral??) which gave me the first pain free time in many months. During recovery I experienced my first pain free deep sleep (though only 1 hour or two) in a long time. But because of the cocktail of pain meds I was unable to keep my breathing going so they put me on oxygen. I also could not pee so they were not going to release me until that happened. Three knee surgeries and three successfull pees so I was confident that the event would happen. By 7PM I was released to go home with this massive arm brace with a rock of a so-called pillow by my side.
RESULT: Complete supraspinatus tear with labrum tear with general cleanup and bone spur removal. Bicep was good, no arthritis, but severe inflamation.
TODAY: One week in and pretty much experiencing every range of emotion that all of you (my new friends) have had and are having. Last night was the worst after reading many of the posts here for the first time and realizing more and more what is in store for me. Today is and has to be a good day because it is my beautiful and incredible wife’s birthday. I hope she still likes me after all this is over. One day at a time and each day gets us all closere and closer to the finish line. Hang in there everybody!
Had surgery on Monday the 28th. Full thickness tear of the supraspinatus, bicep pulling labrum so they cut it and reattached to the bone, cleaned out some other stuff….3 1/2 hour surgery with 6 holes. They used a nerve block that we removed today, Wednesday the 30th. Little to no pain, started therapy on the 29th and doing it three times a day. Icing often all day long. I have taken only two pain pills and sleeping in the recliner. Biggest problem is being out of work for the next four months….custodian. Not sure what I will do, it is my dominant hand. I have help for now but when my wife goes back to work I hope I will be able to do what I need to on my own.
6 weeks since surgery (2 full and 1 partial tear).I finally got the ok)to start rehab..IM SO READY! 2 to 3 days a week with multiple exercises to do at home everyday.I HOPE I get the ok from my doctor and workers comp to go back to work in 2 weeks(supervisor 75% desk work). This site has been a great source of info…please keep up with the updates …Im 52 and feel optimistic for a full recovery(I fully understand I still have a long way to go)
coming up 8 months now since my tear repair with sutures and anchors and finally managed to say goodbye to the stretching bands and regained enough strength to get back to the gym and restart bench pressing, pull ups, press ups etc although with much lighter weights than before.
Still minor soreness which only seems to flare after intense periods of running. Seems comfortable though both during and after weights sessions.
About six weeks out from surgery on dominant shoulder. First two weeks are the worst. Started passive rehab the day after surgery and still doing it. See Dr next week for second post op review. Probably will stay in sling two more weeks (total eight) based on what my PT Doc tells me is standard practice. Started working out in gym about a month ago doing leg work, core, and aerobics to keep from gaining weight and losing strength and staying sane! Sleep in bed mostly on my non involved side. Go to PT three times per week and do required shoulder exercises (passive) three times a day. The only difference between the work i do at home and at PT is arm manipulation, stimulation and ROM measurements by PT Doctor.
Shoulder is much improved now. Can pretty much perform all necessities without much pain. But obviously can’t lift arm yet and have been told NOT to try!
I’m 69 and have had shoulder problem for probably ten years. Finally had to have surgery when I could no longer swing a golf club! Haha! Left shoulder has similar but lesser problem; but I won’t have surgery unless I can’t play golf.
This surgery in my opinion should not be undertaken unless your lifestyle is materially effected. It’s too invasive and takes too long to recover!
Good luck and hang in there!
I tore three of four of my rotator cuff tendons in my left arm 15 years ago (age 35 ) in a fall.they did the surgery but said my injury was severe and I would not get full usage back. disapointing since I liked working out plus other activities but I surprised them by getting back almost 100%. then in 2003 I had to have my right bicept tendon reattacted.I recovered and went back to the gym (doing pretty good at this point). then in 2010 I fell and reinjured my left shoulder requiring another rotator repair which was worse than they thought and I was in surgery for 5 plus hours also had to reattach the bicept tendon.(This is getting old) during therapy I could tell that I tore it back off, back into surgery which was unsuccessful and told unrepairable now so I can’t lift that arm over 90 degrees(I;m tring to get back to positive but difficult). so 4 weeks ago because of a bone spur and doing everything with my right arm I had to have rotator cuff surgery on my right arm I’m so depressed
And worried that I’m goin to tear this one off also but hear are some things Iv’e learned. 1.get the nerve block. 2.find a surgeon who specializes in shoulder surgery. 3.have help the first week. 4 keep up with the pain meds. 5. realize there’s gonna be pain and it’s a long recovery but you most likely will have a good outcome. God be with you!
Wow Mitch! Thanks for your excellent advice 🙂 In 2 weeks I’m getting the right shoulder done, so I’ll be thinkin of you. I just want to encourage you if I can. I’ve heard what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…in which case I think you should change your name to Hercules! You have been through the ringer and you’re still going 🙂 Remind yourself how God has seen you through all the previous stuff, and know He won’t let you go now 🙂 Hang in there! I think you are amazing! You have encouraged me greatly 🙂
Good luck in two weeks, a couple other things that helped was if your in a pillow sling which I think is more comfortable buy a mylar ballon to shove under your arm in the shower. also a wash brush.
I agree with your five points. You’ve been thru the ringer; it’s easy to get depressed when your lifestyle is put on hold for months. Hang in there!
I am scheduled for surgery on the right shoulder next Thursday 1/7/13, then first PT on the 11th. Biceps Trenton repair, labrum repair, and bone spur removal, I am 61 and very active. Mine was damaged in a wrok related event, but I own my own company so I guess that is a good thing. This site has been great to see the different experiences and recovery times. My surgery is being done by my doctor that I have known for years, he is at an Ortho Sports group that specializes in shoulders and knees. I have researched all I can find and watched all the you tube videos, I think this helped me get ready. I will repost next week. Wish me luck!
Andy,Glad to hear that youre doing so well at your eight month stage,I will be four month on Friday,I am still getting some neck pain after doing my regular home exercises,but the ice seems to help.Have you ever experienced any neck pain in your recovery.Not only is my shoulder slackening off quite well, so are all the door handles in my house with using the stretch bands,but I find im getting there.enjoy the gym,go easy on the pressups,and best of luck to everyone in ths excellent forum
The neck pain seems to be quite normal. I have experienced exactly the same.
Everything across the shoulders, neck etc seems to be linked and i have found not only neck pain but the other good should flares up, but only when the bad one does.
I am now starting to feel reasonably comfortable at 8 months even after a good gym session.
I feel i am firly fit but the long recovery time from this shoulder episode has even suprised me.
If i was not fully normal after a year i would be looking to revisit the consultant but i seem on track now to be 100% when i reach
the anniversary of the surgery.
Good luck with yours. 4 months was still quite sore for me.
I joined the club now 7 weeks ago. Noticed left shoulder pain, while putting on shirts, or tucking in back area, had been very active weight lifting, running, swimming, hunting, fishing, etc. Finally when the pain kept me up at night I had it checked out and my left rotator cuff had been complety torn U shaped, along with spurs from arthritis. I had no option but to get it fixed to resume my lifestyle. I tried to prepare myself which is difficult to understand until your in these shoes. Very miserable 2-3 weeks, not much sleep, and you WILL need a recliner at least a month (I rented one). Rehab now days begins very early usually the same week you have surgery. CLose to 8 weeks My range of motion is not great and my Doc says I have another 2 month window to get it back. Starting on a steriod dose pack in the morning to try to help, will continue Rehab effors three time a week and three time a day myself. Ice machine and lortab! You do not get much sleep the first few weeks, and a little better going into the second month. I had no choice preferred the winter time having to wear the sling for 6 weeks. My PT reminded me that this is not a surgery for anyone impatient, (which I am). Hope for full recover in 8 months!
Saw Doc after 6 weeks post op and he removed sling 2 weeks early due to my excellent ROM progress. What a relief getting rid of sling! I start active PT in 2 weeks. This is quite a journey. I hope to be playing golf after 4 months….
Bob….Sixteen weeks Monday….Just was given permission to hit a few wedges for the next week or so. Then work up to a full swing with the driver after 20 weeks. Be patient don’t push…listen to your doctor and your P/T person….
Well…it will be round 2 for me…I now have to have rotator cuff repair surgery for my left shoulder. MRI showed medium to large full thickness tears in my left shoulder. My surgeon is attributing this to all the wear and tear it went through while carrying the burden while I was recovering from my right shoulder surgery. He said it is very common when one shoulder is severe, it is likely that the other shoulder will need repaired within a year or two. My right shoulder was so bad due to an injury…story was posted on Jan 6. I am now 15 months out from that surgery and am dreading my left shoulder surgery but I know it is a necessity for me to still have a normal life. My right shoulder recovery was extremely difficult as the damage in my right shoulder was quite severe so we are hoping this time with less tears and smaller tears the recover will not be quite as bad but my surgeon told me size of tear does not dictate recovery time it only means greater chance of successful repair…as he put it…it is still a full rotator cuff repair surgery you are having…much different than other shoulder surgeries that do not include official repair. It is such a long and frustrating recovery but so worth it to have a normal life. Hang in there everyone…it does get better…I will have to remind myself of that here in a couple of weeks…
Round two for me as well but the left was just done in October and even before it was done, my right began to hurt. It will be scheduled for sometime near the end of March, early April…I have not really had the time to “forget”
I dislocation my shoulder from a bad fall while on holiday. The arm was put back in but the doctors in cuba missed a eedge shaped fracture of the greater tuberosity plus a full rotator cuff tear. When I returned home I had open surgery ( 16 days from the original injury) . The idea was to put pin the fracture back but the bone dissolved and the surgeon ended up filling in the wedge shaped hole with the tendon which he then secured with anchors and sutures. My pain has been manageable and in two weeks, I will be going to see him again for my six week follow-up and I am hoping to get the sling off but he has not let me know one way or the other. The surgeon does not like to answer any questions and can make me feel quite stupid when I do ask him any. My bigest worry is that I will never again be able to move my upper arm away from the side of my body. I have an older relative who had this surgery and his upper arm is still essentially glued to his body. I am doing pendulum exercises and seem to have good rom with minimal discomfort and I can bend my arm at my elbow and hold it up which I could not do right after the exercise. I am not supposed to try to move my arm away from my body and although I have been tempted to try, I will not until I have the ok. My sense is that I can’t move it away or won’t be able to move it away….this obesses me almost. Can anyone tell me if they were able to move their arm away from their body upward or to the side right after being allowed to take the sling off and try? Sorry for the long post but my surgeon just brushes off my questions and my family is reassuring but don’t understand how real this fear is to me.
PS. forgive the poor grammar and misspelling …adjusting to typing while in a sling : )
You won’t be able to do much for a while. And please don’t do anything unless given the ok…this recovery takes a lot of patience but you will get there
Yikes I’m very fearful of getting surgery bc if the pain involved. Sometimes I read that the pain is managed quite well with meds and others hv horrible experiences where the meds did nothing to help??? I am scheduled for april2013 and just need to know a couple of things. 1.does the nerve block keep the arm numb so that after surgery and in the recovery room you can b relatively pain free? 2. How long before u need to dope up after getting home? 3. Does the sling cause most of the post-op pain ? Was has been the best pain drug that helps with the surgery or is it a combination of opium narcotics coupled with Ambian coupled with 800mg Ibuprophen coupled with ice? Where do I get an ice machine? Help ? Scared to death! Evie
Evie, thank you for saying you’re scared to death 🙂 I go in tomorrow and I have been terrified myself 🙁 I have only ever been to the hospital 3 times with my first 3 kids, after that it was midwives. So I just see a white coat and can’t breathe 😛 For the past 4 months I have been on Mobic and then Tramadol. I’m allergic to tylenol, so I don’t know what they will give me. I actually wrote my will last night 🙂 Just in case I don’t wake up! I am a total coward! I am so not looking forward to pain, I’m going to sleep as much as I can 🙂 Hybernation season, right? My pharmacist said frozen peas are the best because they are so maleable, and we don’t have room or money for an ice machine. Anyway, good luck and I’ll try to type left handed and let you know what they give me 🙂
no capitals as i am 9 days post surgery and type with one finger. it has been a challenge especially as i live alone.
i have been on oxycodone for pain. do not take so many medications that you are dizzy or sick. i found that some pain kept me from falling asleep and putting pressure on shoulder by mistake. a really bad mistake!
it is easier that i finally can use of my hand to help hold things.
if my surgery had been done on my dominant hand i would not be able to take care of myself. i wear swear pants and large warm shirts that i can put one arm in and wrap around me. took a trip to salvation army and walmart so i did not have to spend a lot of money.
i did have a nerve block to help after surgery. very strange to have no feeling or ability to move the fingers. one thing i have to remember to do is relax. i tend to make a hard fist and tense against the pain …. that just makes so much worse. muscle spams etc.
thinking about physical therapy and moving my shoulder is ….well awful. i do not know when i have to start to go.