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What to Expect During Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator cuff surgery is performed to repair the tear in the rotator cuff. Dr. Madsen may also clean between the rotator cuff tendons and the shoulder blade in a process called subacromial smoothing. This is done with either a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, or an open surgery.

man in pain after working out

Arthroscopic Surgery

With arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Madsen uses a lighted tube with a tiny camera called an arthroscope. He then puts it and other surgical tools through small cuts (incisions) into the shoulder. This type of minimally invasive surgery is done as an outpatient treatment and most people go home the same day they have the surgery.

Recovering from a Rotator Cuff Surgery

Patients require physical rehabilitation (rehab) following a rotator cuff surgery. At first, help is provided by either Dr. Madsen or a physical therapist. Once progress is made, patients are given exercises to do on their own. Rehab typically lasts several months and it is about 3-4 months before patients are able to use the arm as normal. It will take 4-6 months before full mobility is recovered and throwing objects and sport related activities are allowed.

Following surgery and rehab, the shoulder will have less pain and more strength. The arm is then able to be lifted and rotated, though some avoid lifting heavy objects altogether.

If the patient has a desk job, they are able to return to work, or their normal routine within 1-2 weeks. If their job requires pushing, pulling, or lifting it is suggested to return to work within a few months.

Open Surgery

With open surgery, Dr. Madsen will make a 2-4 inch incision into the shoulder. Most people go home the same day they have this surgery.

In both surgeries, the scars usually fade with time. Slings are worn for a few weeks post-op.

Follow up Care

It is vital that patients make and go to all appointments and keep in contact with Dr. Madsen, especially if problems arise. It is also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines prescribed.

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