What to do after a rotator cuff repair?

Post-op rotator cuff repair in a sling

Day of surgery: 

- Stay on top of the pain! The pre-op block you get for the pain can wear off anywhere from 6-18 hours after surgery. When you get home start taking some pain medication, usually an NSAID like Ibuprofen or Alleve. Usually 600-800mg of Ibuprofen every 6-8 hours or Alleve 500mg every 12 hoursif you are able. If you cannot take NSAIDs then start out taking your prescribed pain medication such as Hydrocodone or Percocet. Usually 1 pill every 6 hours. You can go up to 2 pills every 4 hours if needed. The pain will be the worst after the block wears off but will eventually get much better after the second day. Most patients are off the narcotic pain medication in a few days. A word of advice, if you dont have much pain the first day I would recommend taking 1 pill of the Hydrocodone or the Percocet before bedtime. It will help you from waking up with more pain if the blocks wears off while you are sleeping. Stay ahead of the pain!!

-How to sleep: Usually you will need to sleep on a recliner at an angle about 45 degrees or in bed with pillows behind you. It will be too uncomfortable to lay flat because the shoulder rolls back which increases the pain. This is usually needed as long as the sling is on anywhere from 3-6 weeks depending on the instructions from your surgeon.

-Wound care: Patients typically take off the dressings the second day after surgery and wash the small incisions with soap and water daily. Cover incisions with bandaids in between. Follow your surgeons instructions. 

-Activity: You should get up and walk around as much as you can to help prevent DVT or blood clot. With a repair you should be non-weight bearing which means no pushing, pulling or lifting with that arm. You can take the sling off daily and do elbow, wrist and hand range of motion exercises. Wear your sling all other times!

Author
Thomas Joseph Kovack, DO Thomas Joseph Kovack, DO, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder, elbow, and knee surgery. He provides services to people living in Columbus, Ohio, at Hand and Microsurgery Associates and Columbus Shoulder Doc. Dr. Kovack not only provides established surgical procedures for common shoulder, elbow, and knee problems, but is one of the few orthopedic surgeons offering the latest advanced techniques such as total shoulder resurfacing, arthroscopic biologic shoulder replacement, biologic patches for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and robotic-assisted knee replacement. Dr. Kovack completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh before attending the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri. After graduating with his medical degree, Dr. Kovack undertook an internship at Ohio University at the Doctors Hospital in Columbus and stayed to complete his residency in orthopedic surgery. Having developed a particular i

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