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Returning to Sports After Rotator Cuff Surgery

What you need to do before returning to tennis or another sport post rotator cuff surgery.

Every time you swing a golf club, a tennis racket, or deliver one of those mean fast balls, your rotator cuff is hard at work behind the scenes providing you with the necessary range of motion, stability, and strength. If you’ve overworked this tough band of connective tissue and require surgery, your sporting life needs to take a timeout for a while you heal. But how long?

Here at Wellington Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we understand that our active patients aren’t exactly designed for the couch. So when it comes time for a surgical repair of any kind, we use the latest techniques and treatment protocols to get our patients in Oxford, Sardinia, and West Chester, Ohio, back into the game as quickly, and as strongly, as possible.

If you’ve injured your rotator cuff and need surgery, the road to recovery (and your return to the sport of your choice), relies a great deal on how we negotiate this journey. Let’s take a look at how, together, we can smooth the way forward.

Minimal disruption

If you require rotator cuff surgery to repair this group of critical tendons and muscles, the first step to a speedier recovery is on us. What we mean by this is that the surgical techniques we use will dictate, to a great extent, how quickly you’re able to recover.

Traditionally, any surgery meant cutting a wide swath in order to gain both manual and visual access to your injury. This often brought about considerable collateral damage to the tissues surrounding your injury, which required a long recovery.

With the advent of arthroscopy, we’re able to take a more stealthy approach to your rotator cuff using specialized cameras and tools, which we thread through very small incisions. With the high-definition 3D camera, we’re able to sufficiently visualize your rotator cuff tear without the need for a firsthand look. Then, using specialized tools that translate our surgeons’ movements, we can repair your injury without disturbing the surrounding tissue a great deal.

A regenerative boost

Although arthroscopy has been a game-changer when it comes to rotator cuff repairs, we also use the latest regenerative medicine to complement our efforts, namely platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Your body does an amazing job healing itself, but it does so at its own pace. Through PRP therapy, we redirect healing resources to the surgical site in order to encourage faster rebuilding and regeneration on a cellular level.

Your platelets contain valuable growth factors, or proteins, that aid in healing. By drawing your blood and isolating your platelets, we can create a concentrate of these healing resources and inject them back into your damaged tissue. Typically, we do this postoperatively when your body needs an extra healing boost.

Now here’s where you come in

After your surgery, you’ll need to rest your shoulder, and we mean really rest it. A sling is an easy thing to slip in and out of, but resist this temptation and keep your shoulder immobile for as long as we feel is necessary.

Rest assured, this immobilization will be shorter than you think. We have found that moving your shoulder shortly after surgery, under expert guidance, will help your shoulder heal properly. And by expert guidance, we mean physical therapy.

Your post-surgical physical therapy is perhaps the most important key to your recovery as we work to re-strengthen your shoulder. Your physical therapy program not only concentrates on strength, but range of motion, as well. Through specialized exercises, we slowly rehab your shoulder, adding strength and flexibility incrementally, all while keeping a watchful eye on your rotator cuff repair.

Most of our patients require several months of physical therapy. Your participation is paramount to the success of your physical therapy. If you follow your physical therapy program to the letter, do your exercises at home, and resist the urge to push, you’ll be rewarded with a rotator cuff that’s ready to play more quickly. It’s also important to bear in mind that physical therapy not only gets you game-ready, it will help you avoid re-injury down the road by strengthening your supporting tissue.

If you have any more questions about returning to sports after a rotator cuff surgery, please feel free to call one of our three locations. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up a consultation.

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