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5 Tips for Returning to Sports after Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

A rotator cuff tear is damage to the tendons attaching muscles to bone inside your shoulder joint. It’s pretty common in a lot of sports, especially ones that require overhead arm movement, like tennis, baseball, and football. Can you go back to sports after a rotator cuff injury?

At the Naples, Florida-based orthopedic office of Dr. Philip Regala, he provides treatment for all types of joint injuries, including rotator cuff tears. In most cases, such an injury can be repaired using a minimally invasive type of surgery called arthroscopy. And in most cases, patients can go back to sports after an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Your rotator cuff repair

If possible, Dr. Regala will repair your torn rotator cuff using arthroscopic surgery. He'll make a tiny incision that lets him insert a minuscule camera on a thin rod to view the inside of your joint. Then he'll use specialized tools to complete the repair. You'll probably be able to get this surgery done as an outpatient and go home the same day.

Recovery from rotator cuff arthroscopy

After your surgery, you'll have to have physical rehabilitation. More than 90% of people who get arthroscopic rotator cuff repair are able to return to their former level of sports performance, but on average, expect it to take around five months to be fully recovered. The important thing is to work closely with your doctor and your coach and to follow their instructions. These five tips can help:

1. Wait until you're pain- and inflammation-free to train

You’ll be instructed on how to move and exercise after your surgery. Don’t start trying to train competitively again until after the pain and inflammation from the arthroscopy have gone away.

2. Slowly build up range of motion and strength

If you immediately start trying to do everything you did before, you’re likely to re-injure your shoulder. Build your intensity back up incrementally, starting off like you’re brand new to your sport and working under the supervision of your doctor and coach.

3. Work on the muscles surrounding your rotator cuff

The muscles that support your shoulder need special care and attention so they can become strong enough to help prevent future injury. Don’t stop exercising and rehabbing your shoulder early. In fact, consider adding muscle strengthening exercises to your ongoing workout routine.

4. Stretch it out, warm up and cool down

Don’t jump the gun and start hard physical activity without a proper warm up. Stretching and slowly increasing activity will warm your muscle tissues and make them more flexible. Cooling down after sports play is equally as important. 

5. Pain is a big red stop sign

Don’t get caught in the “no pain, no gain” mindset. If you have pain, stop. If it doesn’t diminish, call your doctor. Don’t try to play through it.  

By following these five tips, you can increase your chances of returning to the sport you love without causing further injury. 

If you have shoulder pain, arm weakness, or a diagnosed rotator cuff tear, call our office at 239-325-1131 or schedule an appointment online.

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