You’ve pulled the trigger and chosen to end your shoulder problems with rotator cuff surgery. This decision is a good one and will help you enjoy an active lifestyle well into the future. Lying between you and that active life, however, is the post-surgical road to recovery.
To help you navigate your recovery with ease, I’ve pulled together a list of things that have helped many of my Houston patients keep their attention on healing. With a little planning — and a lot of patience — you can get through your recovery with the fewest bumps in the road.
It’s hard to understand how limiting life is without the use of an arm until you’re experiencing it. After your rotator cuff surgery, you’ll be confined to a sling for 4-6 weeks, making even the simple act of brushing your teeth feel like climbing Mt. Everest.
Do yourself a favor and be mindful in the weeks leading up to your surgery of all the things that require two hands. Make a mental note or, better yet, an actual note, so you can address these issues before you come home from surgery.
To get you started, here’s a list of tips that will help ease life on the home front:
Speaking of clothes, you’d do well to ditch the button-fly jeans and opt for pull on sweatpants during your recovery. Trying to dress with one arm is full of challenges, especially when it comes to shirts. Since you’re wearing a sling, you won’t be able to raise your arm to pull on a shirt or sweater. Instead, have open-front shirts available that you can drape over your shoulder.
Without the use of both hands, it’s going to be hard to prepare food. If you like to cook, prepare a lot of meals in advance and freeze them. If cooking isn’t your thing, make sure to stock up on premade meals that don’t require a lot of mixing or preparation.
As long as we’re in the kitchen, surgery and pain medications can do a number on your digestive system. You should stock up on high-fiber foods, like black beans, apples, and berries, to help prevent constipation. You should stay well-hydrated during this time, too.
If you’re working on any big projects, like building an outdoor deck, you should plan on shelving them for a couple of months or getting them done ahead of time. Without the use of your arm, you’re not going to be able to take on any major chores, nor do we want you to.
You should also plan ahead for friends and family to help out with things like mowing the lawn or taking care of your dog. If you contact people who can help ahead of time, you won’t be scrambling after your surgery to find a warm body.
If you work at a job where you use both arms, talk to your boss or your colleagues about your limitations during your recovery. They can usually reassign you or even allow you to work from home, if necessary.
Odds are you’re an active person, which is why your rotator cuff needed surgery in the first place. Since your movement will be limited for a month or two after surgery, maybe even longer, plan ahead with some books or crossword puzzles to keep your mind occupied when your body isn’t.
During your recovery, you can expect to be doing rehab work under the guidance of a physical therapist. If you want to keep your fitness regimen going, you can ask them, or me, about exercises you can still do, such as lunges or squats.
If you spend some time now planning for your recovery, you can significantly ease the frustration that can come with rotator cuff surgery.
If you have any more questions about preparing for rotator cuff surgery, don’t hesitate to call my office here in Houston.