Recovery from rotator cuff surgery can seem daunting, especially if you’re eager to get back to your normal routine. Because your shoulder joint is complex and you depend on it for so many things, it’s imperative that you follow Dr. Dominique Nickson’s advice during your recovery to ensure that it heals properly.
Here are a few things you can do to speed up your healing time without causing additional problems that might interrupt your healing process:
Understand your options
In the time leading up to your rotator cuff surgery, you may have so many concerns or questions about the surgery itself that you don’t even think about what happens afterward. At Next Step Orthotics, we take time to discuss your recovery with you in detail. We make sure you have a clear understanding of the healing process and how each step affects your recovery.
Trust in recommended therapies
Following your surgery, you may experience significant inflammation in the shoulder area that can be effectively treated with cold therapy and compression therapy.
Using cold packs as recommended can reduce swelling and even help improve your pain levels. Compression therapy involves wearing a specialized compression garment to increase blood flow and support the veins in your shoulder. This therapy is also effective at controlling inflammation and reducing the amount of swelling.
Participate in physical therapy
In addition to cold and compression therapies, physical therapy can also expedite your recovery. While participating in physical therapy when you’re in pain may seem counterintuitive, it actually promotes faster healing. The faster you start your therapy after surgery, the sooner your body begins to heal.
Don’t push yourself too far too quickly. Follow your physical therapist’s recommendations for specific exercises and frequency. But don’t take it upon yourself to do additional work, which can cause complications with your surgery and set back your recovery.
Early exercises often involve movements of just your hand, fingers, and wrist. Eventually, your physical therapist will increase your exercise routines and work you up to gentle movements in your shoulder.
Having your arm in a sling or an immobilizer can be inconvenient and even make you so frustrated that you take it off too early. It’s important to let your shoulder rest as much as possible to promote effective healing.
If you start moving your shoulder too soon after surgery, or if you aren’t providing your body with the necessary support, you can cause tears or other damage to your recently repaired shoulder. This not only sets back your recovery, it can also cause long-term complications with your shoulder health.
Limit pain medications
Following your surgery, you’ll often be prescribed pain medications. It’s important that you that you use these drugs only as directed and follow all dosage instructions.
It’s also in your best interest to use these prescription painkillers for as short a time as possible, allowing you to better gauge your healing process and preventing an unnecessary dependence on pain medications that can inhibit your recovery.
Pay attention to problems
Another reason to limit your medications is so you can be fully aware of any changes that might indicate a problem with your shoulder’s health and healing. Complications following surgery are rare, but they can happen.
Make sure you call us immediately if you begin to experience a high fever, visible discharge, numbness in the surgery arm, or if you have severe pain that is not relieved with prescribed medications.
Go at your own pace
It’s also important to understand that every person heals differently and in their own time. Just because your cousin returned to work in just a few weeks after his rotator cuff surgery, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do the same.
Keeping your recovery efforts in perspective will help reduce physical, mental, and emotional stress factors that can ultimately lengthen your recovery process.