What to Expect During Recovery from a Rotator Cuff Injury

For those who have experienced a rotator cuff injury, one of the biggest concerns is how long the recovery process will be. Renowned San Francisco orthopedic surgeon James Chen, MD, provides treatment for rotator cuff injuries, from mild cases to more severe ones, and can offer some guidance on what the recovery process might look like.

Therapist treating a male injured by rotator cuff stretching method

Rehabilitative Exercises

Performing rehabilitative exercises will strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder, helping to keep it stable. The exercises can also help stretch the muscles you strengthen so that you can increase mobility and flexibility.

Always talk to an experienced surgeon like Dr. Chen to know what the best exercises are for your case.

One exercise that can be helpful is the pendulum. During this exercise, you will lean forward and place a hand on a counter or other surface in front of you. Allow your other arm to hang freely by your side. Gently swing that arm forward and back and then from side to side.

You can also try a crossover arm stretch, which involves pulling one arm across your chest as much as you can. Hold it there for 30 seconds. Don’t pull or put pressure on your elbow.

Another exercise San Francisco orthopedic doctor Dr. Chen recommends is the posterior stretch. For this exercise, hold the elbow of your injured arm in the hand of your uninjured arm. Then, place the hand of your injured arm on the opposite shoulder. Gently pull the injured arm with the hand of the uninjured one and hold it across your body.

Follow-Ups with Your Orthopedic Surgeon

Stick to the schedule your orthopedic surgeon has created for your follow-up appointments. During these, Dr. Chen will assess the affected shoulder and may ask you about your level of discomfort. He will also advise you about the type of exercises you should do and how often you should perform them.

If you have surgery, you will need to attend follow-up appointments two weeks after the procedure and then at the three-month, six-month, and twelve-month mark.

Rest and Recuperation

If you suffered a rotator cuff injury, one of the best things you can do is give your muscles and tendons time to rest. Avoid raising your arms over your head or putting strain on them in any way. You can use ice on your shoulder for about 20 minutes at a time, three to four times a day.

Before starting exercises to help you regain strength and mobility, Dr. Chen usually recommends one to two weeks of rest. He will always be available to guide you through the recuperation process.

Protecting Your Shoulder After Rotator Cuff Injuries

You can help prevent further injuries by continuing to perform the strengthening exercises you learned while in rehabilitation. If you can, try to avoid activities that require you to repeatedly raise your arms over your head. When you must perform these activities, use an ice pack on your shoulder afterward.

Before you need to use your shoulders for an extended period, you should always warm the muscles up with gentle exercises.

For athletes, anti-inflammatory medications can also be necessary to help prevent swelling in the shoulder.

A good rule of thumb is that if you feel any pain after recovering from a rotator cuff injury, you should cut back on your activities and visit Dr. Chen for a checkup.

Considering a Rotator Cuff Repair? Turn to a Renowned Orthopedic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA

James Chen, MD, is an experienced surgeon ready to help you through the challenges that a rotator cuff injury can bring. He focuses on minimally invasive treatment options, including arthroscopic surgery, to help you regain flexibility and mobility.

Dr. Chen’s patient-centered approach to care and his dedication to being there for each of the people who depend on him make him one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in San Francisco, CA, as his stellar patient testimonials can attest.

If you have a rotator cuff injury and don’t know where to turn, look no further. Call San Francisco shoulder doctor James Chen, MD, today to schedule your consultation.


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