Rotator Cuff Repair Care

Learn what care is required for the Rotator Cuff Repair procedure. Find out what you need to do prior to the procedure, how long it will take, if you will be required to stay in the hospital and what the postoperative care is.

Rotator Cuff Repair Details

What to Expect Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • An x-ray of the shoulder
  • An MRI of the shoulder-a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body

Leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before surgery.
  • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.


General anesthesia is typically used. You will be asleep.

Description of Procedure

There are two methods used to perform a rotator cuff repair:

Open Surgery

The doctor will make a large cut in the skin over the shoulder. The torn tendon will be repaired and reattached and/or anchored with stitches. The incision will then be closed with stitches or staples.

Arthroscopic Surgery

A few small incisions will be made in the shoulder. A narrow tool called an arthroscope will be inserted through the incision. The scope has a tiny camera to allow the doctor to see inside. Other small instruments will be inserted through the other incisions. The doctor will use these tools to repair the tendon.

After either procedure, the incisions will be bandaged. Your arm will be placed in a sling. The sling will prevent movement while you heal.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1 ½-2 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some discomfort immediately after. Your doctor can give you medicine to help manage this.

Average Hospital Stay

You may be able to go home the same day. Some may need to stay in the hospital for one day.

Post-procedure Care

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Use ice to reduce swelling during the first 24-48 hours after surgery.
  • Take the full doses of all medicines prescribed.
  • Keep the bandage clean and dry at all times.
  • Do not use the arm until instructed. Wear the sling as directed.
  • Unless your job requires heavy lifting, you can usually return to work within a few days after surgery.
  • Follow instructions for physical therapy. Therapy is essential to regain shoulder strength and range of motion.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

The rotator cuff will take several months to heal. It may take some time before you can raise your arm above your shoulder. It may be up to one year before you can hold your arm above your head and do work with reasonable strength. An aggressive and consistent exercise program is the key to a faster recovery.


Learn what Rotator Cuff Repair is
What Is
Learn what the procedure is. Find out how it is performed.
Reasons For Rotator Cuff Repair
Reasons For
Find out why and when this procedure should be done.
Rotator Cuff Repair Complications
Learn about possible complications and what might increase the risk of them.
Rotator Cuff Repair Details
What to Expect
Find out how long it will take, what they will be doing and what to expect afterwards.
Rotator Cuff Repair Results
What are the next steps and other possible tests needed after you have received the results.
When to Contact Doctor about Rotator Cuff Repair
Call Your Doctor
What to look out for and when to call your doctor after a procedure has been done.

Latest Articles

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO