View Full Version : Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery?

August 2nd, 2016, 11:36 PM
So some of you may remember my not-so-graceful driveway fall a couple of weeks ago. The front teeth survived, the upper lip is pretty normal looking now, the bruised cheek has faded to a nice yellow hue and the scrapped knee has healed BUT an MRI yesterday showed a complete tear of my rotator cuff. Surgery is scheduled for August 18 so my question is, if any of you have had this surgery, how long was it before you could sew?? I'm so NOT happy about this! Wish I'd been more careful!

August 2nd, 2016, 11:54 PM
I have not had this done but my brother just had it done recently. He is in a sling/brace for six weeks with PT now and afterward to regain range of motion. I broke my shoulder some time ago and it did not require surgery, just six weeks in a sling and about 12 weeks of PT. Once I was out of the sling, I could pretty much do what I could tolerate except lifting heavy things. I will keep you in prayer for your surgery and for a quick, uneventful recovery. Hopefully you'll be sewing again before you know it!

August 3rd, 2016, 12:48 AM
I understand one is more comfortable post-op sleeping in a recliner. Do you have one? or can you borrow one? Will you be in a sling or a cast? So sorry you're facing this surgery. I don't have answers to your questions, but I would think you'd need to complete all your physical therapy prior to resuming sewing/quilting. Don't be afraid to take the pain pills to help you get through. Good luck! Have you googled the surgery & read up on post-op care? You might be able to learn something that way.

August 3rd, 2016, 01:41 AM
When my deputies would have it done, they would be out a good three to six months from it.

Sylvia H
August 3rd, 2016, 04:31 AM
I had this surgery in September, 2014. I had one complete tear and 2 partial tears. It was about 3 months before I could use the sewing machine. At the beginning, all I could do was piecing, as it was too much of a strain to push the layers of a quilt around. My physical therapist did think that sewing, and a little bit of rotary cutting was good for my recovery. But, by the 4th month, I could also do the quilting. What helped me get through the non-machine sewing time was learning how to do English Paper Piecing (EPP).

Here are some tips for pre- and post- surgery.

Before surgery, learn to use your other hand/arm for daily tasks like brushing teeth, combing hair, toileting. (This is because most surgery is done on the dominant arm.)
Sleep in a recliner, if one is available. One that is motorized is the best.
Have someone stay with you for at least the first 4 - 7 days.
Definitely take your pain meds!
Follow through with your physical therapy at home.

As JCY mentioned, many sleep in a recliner for a few weeks after surgery. I didn't have one, but I did sleep sitting up on a sofa for about 4 weeks. As I live alone, I spent the first 2 weeks at my son's home. It is definitely helpful to have someone around for the first 4 - 7 days. I had a complication immediately after surgery, and then in my first week post-op. So it was good to have others around to help me. I could have gone home after a week, but son and DIL encouraged me to stay the 2 weeks.

I was given a nerve block pre-surgery, and that did not wear off for over 24 hours after the operation - a wonderful idea! My surgery was arthroscopic, so I only had 3, very little, scars on my shoulder.

Definitely take the pain medication. If you are already taking narcotic pain medication for something else, you have to make sure you will be able to get a new prescription filled. A friend's husband couldn't get the meds he needed at day 3 post op, as his prescription for a similar med, for another reason, wasn't due for a refill. He had 2 very uncomfortable days until he could get his prescription filled.

For my first week post-op, I was in a immobilizing sling, keeping me from moving my shoulder at all. I was encouraged to move fingers and hand up to the wrist. I had home care nursing set up, and they checked my 'vitals' and also taught me how to shower without moving my arm. I was so thrilled when I could bathe without assistance!

I started physical therapy at 6 weeks - when I was free to move around without the sling. I still used the sling when I was out in public. It served as a clue to the public to keep away from my arm! By this time, I was okay to drive - I was off all narcotic meds at this time. I only drove locally for a few more weeks. This was my choice, as I didn't want to put myself in a situation that would aggravate my healing shoulder.

My physical therapy ended at 4 months post-surgery, but, as my doctor stated, I continued to see improvement in my movement for about a year. I now have all the movement of my arm that I had before the tears. I am very pleased with the results.

I wish you the best for your surgery, and if you have any questions, please ask.

August 3rd, 2016, 06:35 AM
I wish you all the best.

August 3rd, 2016, 07:13 AM
I had rotator cuff surgery about 7 years ago. It was rough for the first 2 weeks. I could manage things pretty well after 4 weeks and I began sewing about that time. It was 6 months before I could bend my arm behind my back and touch my shoulder blades. I had the nerve block before surgery and it didn't wear off for 7 days. I hated the physical therapy and discontinued it after about 4 weeks and did my exercises at home. My operated shoulder is much stronger than my other.

Good luck to you.

August 3rd, 2016, 07:24 AM
Wishing you the best. I have experienced this twice. Yep, both shoulders. I second everything Sylvia said. The one other thing I suggest is purchasing a bra that hooks in the front. This made getting dressed so much easier. I also had the nerve block, and the arm was like a wet noodle for at least 24 hours (don'the remember exactly). I think for me it may have been 4 weeks before I could sew, longer for FMQ. Don'the be shy about accepting help from others.

Do your physical therapy diligently. Cannot stress this enough. It will hurt, but therapy is so important to getting back to normal.

August 3rd, 2016, 09:38 AM
I broke my R upper arm a year ago. 3 fractures and a jammed shoulder joint. I agree witheverything Sylvia said too, and definitely get a bra that fastens in the front. Good luck with your surgery. Prayers for a speedy recovery. Kathy

Sylvia H
August 3rd, 2016, 10:13 AM
OMG! I totally forgot about the front hooking bras! LOL! I spent the first few weeks without a bra! But it was fall, and I could easily cover up with a baggy shirt. Something else I did do was get a few oversized tops to wear while I still had to use the sling.

I started my therapy at 6 weeks, and was finished at 4 months post surgery. My physical therapist said I did very well, as many times the therapy has to continue for 6 months. It hurt, and I always took some Aleve before going to therapy. But it was a good hurt - I knew I was getting better. I believe doing the exercises each day at home contributed to my being able to finish therapy sooner rather than later.

August 3rd, 2016, 10:15 AM
I just wanted to wish you a fast and comfortable healing :)

August 3rd, 2016, 12:37 PM
I have not had that type of surgery...I wish you a fast recovery!

August 4th, 2016, 02:38 AM
After having a "massive tear" several years ago, I can relate to the others' experiences. I hurt my R shoulder and am a rightie. Some things I remember as helpful are 1) buy/borrow/steal some very large blouses ones you can keep a sling under and that are easy to put on 2) take your pain meds before going to physical therapy and as needed (advice from my doctor) 3) it would be helpful to have some things placed on your counter ahead of time because it's easier to, say, make coffee if the coffee maker, coffee, measurer, etc. are where you can easily get them 4) going to the bathroom can be made easier if you have something to hold onto either on the wall or freestanding 5) the physical therapy is soooooooo important to a complete recovery. 6) I slept in a recliner. If you don't have access to one, maybe one of those "study pillows" with arms might help to sleep in bed. It's all about the position you're in. It would be worth renting a chair. Regarding using a sewing machine, it depends on which shoulder you've hurt. Your body will tell you if it's ok. I wish you a successful surgery and speedy, complete recovery.
Remember: You ARE going to be better.

Remember: you're going to be better and it'll be worth it.

August 4th, 2016, 04:28 AM
Here are some tips for pre- and post- surgery.

Before surgery, learn to use your other hand/arm for daily tasks like brushing teeth, combing hair, toileting. (This is because most surgery is done on the dominant arm.)
Sleep in a recliner, if one is available. One that is motorized is the best.
Have someone stay with you for at least the first 4 - 7 days.
Definitely take your pain meds!
Follow through with your physical therapy at home.

Add to list....

If you write checks, and it is the arm you do your writing with, presign checks and keep them in a safe place.
Buy pants w/elastic waistbands. If you use the bathroom in public, make sure you take someone with you because the butt of them will be twisted up just like a little kids!!

Yes, I've had arm surgery and you learn these things the hard way!

August 4th, 2016, 09:33 AM
Brenda -- I have no experience with this surgery at all, but I wish you a speedy recovery and my prayers will be with you! (ask me about hip replacements and I could help...lol)

Simply Quilting
August 4th, 2016, 10:18 AM
Buy a few of the instant shampoo hair kits and bath kits that don't require you to have to get into the shower. Because you will want to get clean but won't be able to get into a shower.
Carefully follow the doctor and PT instruction. A local guy who did not and he had to go back in for a second surgery.
Be sure you get all instructions in writing, you may think you will remember but the pain meds will make you forget.
The ice chest cooling system is wonderful.
Loose fitting clothes are a wonderful friend. Elastic pants/shorts and button up shirts (if you have someone who can button them for you)

August 4th, 2016, 10:38 AM
Hope surgery goes well and you recover quickly and use all the helpful hints the gals have given you.

August 4th, 2016, 10:50 AM
I have never had that surgery, but you've been given lots of helpful advice here. I just want to wish you a safe and uneventful surgery and prayers for a quick healing. Looking forward to meeting you at the retreat!