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Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), Clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a cold, flu fever, herpes breakout or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that your reschedule your procedure.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • Since you may have general anesthesia, you will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Surgery

  • You will have a dressing over your surgical site for the next few days. You will need to keep if dry and avoid showering until the wound is no longer draining.
  • Most patients can go home the same day.
  • The surgical area can be quite painful, expect to remain on pain medication for the first week or longer following surgery. Applying ice packs to the site may also provide additional relief and help reduce any swelling, but keep the incision dry.
  • Most patients feel much better within a couple of weeks, but full recovery takes several weeks to a few months, based on the complexity of the repair.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

  • Due to the location of the surgery, some patients prefer to sleep in a recliner or propped up for the first week.
  • You will need an immobilizer to protect your shoulder. Your surgeon will advise how long you need to wear the sling.
  • While you may feel better after a couple of weeks, you need to follow your physician’s orders on recommended activities.
  • You will be prescribed a series of appointments for physical therapy to help regain strength in your shoulder.
  • While you will be able to resume light activities, your physician may advise against participating in sports.

Rotator Cuff Repair Q&A

What does shoulder arthroscopy involve?

A patient is fully sedated. Under general anesthesia, the surgeon injects fluid into the shoulder joint. This fluid clears the joint so that the structures are easily seen through the arthroscope. A very small incision is made and the fiber optic camera is inserted into the joint. Images are projected onto a monitor to help guide the surgeon through the procedure. Other small incisions are made for the instruments that will be used to make any repairs.

How many incisions are made?

Several small incisions are made around the shoulder joint. The total number may depend on the complexity of the repair and/or location.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

Patients normally are released the same day of surgery. In some cases, you may need to stay overnight. Physical therapy will be prescribed to help you regain use mobility.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients have some pain the first week and may need to have pain medication prescribed to ease their discomfort. If your procedure was more extensive, expect the pain to subside in a few weeks. Full recovery takes a few weeks up to several months, based on the complexity of your repair. Your doctor can advise you on activities that will help you regain your strength.