Most of the time, a shoulder injury can be treated without the need for a surgical procedure. However, if an injury is major, such as a rotator cuff tear, then shoulder surgery will more than likely be needed. There are several minimally-invasive procedures available, but recovery will still take several months in many instances. While recovery will vary from patient to patient, here is some general information on what to expect if you need a procedure performed.
Post-op to Six Weeks After Shoulder Surgery
After you have shoulder surgery your doctor will more than likely recommend that you keep the joint as still as you can. Some people experience a great amount of pain while others only have minimal discomfort. One way you can keep pain to a minimum is to apply ice packs to the area. Up until about six weeks after your procedure you may need to wear a sling, which will help take pressure off of the affected tendons and speed the process of healing.
During this time, you may go through physical therapy as well. Your therapist may have you perform some exercises designed to help your range of motion. These will be gentle, passive exercises that will not put a great deal of strain on the joint. Gentle movement will be needed in order to keep scar tissue from developing.
Six Weeks to 12 Weeks
Your physical therapy during this part of your recovery from shoulder surgery will help further increase your range of motion. You will still be limited in regard to lifting or pushing heavy objects, because you do not want to risk pulling out any sutures from your operation.
Three to Six Months
This will be the time period where your therapy will include strengthening the muscles of your arm, since you have gone through such an extended period of inactivity. You will need to be careful not to put too much strain on your shoulder, but there are several effective exercises that will slowly increase your strength.