After Rotator Cuff Surgery-when will the pain end?

Posted , 94 users are following.

I am a 56 year old female who usually has a high tolerance for pain. I had rotator cuff surgery on 12/15/16. I had one anchor placed during arthroscopic surgery for a full rotator cuff tear and bone spur removal. I'm having lots of pain, especially at night. I slept in a recliner for one week. Now I'm sleeping in the guest room propped up on pillows. And by "sleeping" I mean a few hours here and there. I miss my real bed and my real life. I'm weaning myself off Demerol, because I don't want to become an addict living in a van down by the river! No offense to drug addicts; I just don't want to join them.

Physical therapy is very painful, but I'm doing my exercises daily....well, not as many reps as I should because it hurts so much afterwards. About a week ago a "therapist" we'll call Hitler just about yanked my arm from my body. Things have been going downhill since, and it isn't me on skis!😣

I'm really over this whole experience!

I want my right arm back...the one I use for everything!

I'm hoping to return to school to teach 95 seventh graders in four days. Too ambitious? I did practice driving left-handed for a month before my surgery,

Thoughts? Advice?

5 likes, 413 replies

413 Replies

  • Posted

    Sounds like we are pretty similar. I am a 55 year old female and had my surgery on 12/02. Full tear and bone spur removal and extrememly high pain threshold. 

    I don't have any advice but my thought is about your "exercises." I'm surprised you are in physical therapy already. From what I've read and certainly my experience thus far is that for the first 6 weeks the arm is supposed to be immobilized. My dr. has limited me to doing the "dangle" twice a day and that's it. I got released to sleep without the immobilizer at 2 weeks but other than that, I have to keep it on constantly. I am allowed to type and do small things with my hand but that is only while keeping the sling on and the shoulder immobilized. Sometimes I forget and try to do too much and I can feel the shoulder get achy later in the day. 

    As I said, I also have a super high pain tolerence. I have been off any pain meds since day 3, BUT I also have kept the straight-jacket, I mean immobilizer lol on all day. I'm really curious why your doc is having you do exercises during the initial 6 week period. Most of the info I have found in the internet seems to be consistent with keeping the arm immobilized for the first six weeks. I go back to the dr. in 5 days and anticipate they will let me take off the sling and then begin physical therapy. 

    Also, even though I have been relatively pain free, I just moved back into my bed 4 nights ago. I tried it a couple times before and kept going back to the recliner. Something about the bed made my arm ache. I've talked to others that have spent months in the recliner. It still aches some and I don't sleep great but I'm able to get fairly comfortable and like you.. I really missed my bed.

    Good luck! I hope you find some relief!

    • Posted

      I too was surprised when I was instructed NOT to use the immobiliser by the surgeon.  I even telephoned to query it.  I was referred to physio very quickly (2 weeks) and the instructions were to use the arm normally with NO resistance.  Apparently some doctors favour this approach as it prevents frozen shoulder occurring.  The PT guy said that only the surgeon knew what he had done during the procedure and therefore his advice should be taken.  I did use it at night though for a bit as I was worried about turning over in my sleep but overall, I have had an excellent result.
    • Posted

      Hmmm.... That's interesting. We do have lots of similarities.

      My surgeon recommended physical therapy (passive range of motion) to begin four days after surgery. The

      appointments were to be three times per week but their schedule was so tight, due to end of the year scheduling, that I was only able to go once a week. I also have passive range of motion and stretching exercises 3-5 times per day at home.

      They told me to take the pain medication an hour before going.

  • Edited

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but you may have a way to go yet.  I have read posts from people saying how quickly they recovered from rotator cuff surgery, but that certainly wasn't my experience.I had the bone spur removal and a rotator cuff tear repair in August 2015 and I can honestly say it was many months before I eventually had a reasonable night's sleep.  I followed the PT instructions to the letter and on reflection I wonder if maybe that was such a good idea because I was always in so much pain afterwards.  However on the plus side, I have full mobility back in my arm, and pain free days.  I still have the occasional ache at night, especially if I lie in an awkward position.  Prior to the surgery (which was open, not arthroscopic) I had pains in my elbow and wrist, and even afterwards, these issues did not go straightaway.  I think you are right to do exercises daily but I wouldn't beat yourself up about the amount of reps.  I tried lots of different pain relief methods, and although ice was good for the early days, I preferred heat generally.  I had acupuncture, wet cupping, massage and I think possibly the turning point - which was probably close to a year after - some deep tissue massage. Not sure if maybe it released some scar tissue that had built up, or maybe just coincidence and it was all about time.  Hang in there though, it does get better, just not yet.

    • Posted

      Thank you for the information! I truly appreciate you sharing your experience with me. I'm sorry you had such a hard time, too. Thank you for the great advice.

      I'm in the immobilizer unless I'm doing the exercises, bathing, or occasionally typing a lesson plan for my substitute at school. For this website, I can type on my phone with my left hand! My doctor told me last week that I could remove the pillow attached to the immobilizer, but I found the sling by itself caused lots more pain. I do hate trying to sleep in it, but I'm afraid I will wake up crushing my arm by tossing and turning. 

      I've been using ice, but like you, I prefer the heat. At the PT appointments, they always start with heat and end with ice. I started the pulley today and think it will be really helpful. 

      I guess everyone is different. I have an old boyfriend who is a fabulous skier. He had both shoulders repaired (at separate times) with rotator cuff surgery and only took one pain pill. I wish I could say the same for myself.

      I cannot wait to have a deep tissue massage. Until then, I'll get back to school and catch up on Netflix! 

      Best wishes to you, Jaycee. I'm glad you achieved full mobility.

    • Edited

      Thank you for your post, I am post op 15 weeks from rotary cuff and still in therapy 3x a week still unable to lift my arm up over my head and still have some aches and pain. I know I have scar tissue and wondering do I need surgery again to remove some of it. I don't feel this is normal am young and healthy. My surgeon wont do a repeat MRI to check for issues since am still having pain. I am a nurse and haven't return to work yet..... it's very depressing

    • Edited

      Hi Latonya.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you probably have a long way to go yet.  I consider myself to be a quick healer and very much a cup half full person in general, but the length of time to feel better after surgery was a real shock to me.  The upside is that you DO get there. I think gentle exercise for a good while is key, and as time goes on, you will feel stronger to do more.  I was very nervous of pushing too far, and it was a good year before I started using a decent amount or resistance in exercising.  I do believe some deep tissue massage around this time was helpful as it could well have dispersed some scar tissue.  Patience really isn't my strong point but if you try to look at the bigger picture and accept that you will get there in the end.  Both arms are as strong and mobile as each other, but it doesn't happen overnight.

  • Edited

    I had cuff surgery on 11/15. Still can't right arm. Therapist tells me only can do range of mtionr until doc says

    strengthening is next. Read it can take up to a year for normalcy. Haven't driven since surgery.

    • Posted

      I believe recovery can definately take up to a year. Just don't be too hard on yourself. I didn't drive for a long time after my surgery. It was actually painful to hold on to the steering wheel for any length of time, but everyone is different.

      Range of motion is a "forever" thing. I believe stretching is the key to recovering your range of motion (ROM). I think strength training should come after the ROM is good, but again, I'm sure there are different opinions on how ROM should be pursued, and everyone is different. Patients AND therapists. Using common sense is key to healing I believe. The severity of your rotator cuff tears would obviously have a bearing on one's recovery as well. Best wishes.

    • Posted

      This is all new to me. mnothing is written in stone. I don't know what to expect.  I only know that it takes time and I did have a bad cuff.m thx for the wishes

  • Edited

    I know that every individual is different than the next. I did my therapy according to my docs and therapists advice, but learned to only go as far with the exercises I could handle in "my" time.

    I am 9 months out from my rotator cuff surgery. Sounds very much like yours. 1 anchor, spurs and an acromioplasty, (supposedly due to arthritis, which I didn't know was an issue for me at the time). I started therapy 2 weeks after my surgery. I slept in my recliner for weeks! I couldn't lay flat on my back, as I believe the repaired tendon was still healing and it seemed to take forever. I DID take my pain meds before my therapy sessions for quite a while.( Although I was aware of the possibility of becoming dependant on them, I did not have an issue getting off of the meds.) I never wore an immobilizer, just a sling and after my first post op, only had to wear the sling when I went outside the house, for a couple more weeks. (Unless I wanted to wear it just to be more comfortable ). About 2 months after my surgery I went to a different physical therapist due to us going to another state for a few months. The "new" therapist used the concept of manual passive massage. This made a huge difference to me. Huge! In a good way. Although I did remain faithful with the pulley and bands for my daily exercises. Well, I still am having a fair amount of discomfort with "certain" motions, like swimming and some nights I will wake up with pain, but can usually "adjust" my sleeping position and get comfortable again. I let up on my exercises because of some back issues starting up, so now I think I need to get back into some old stretching exercises again. All in all, I am doing really well. I feel fortunate that I was able to have my surgery as I had terrible pain beforehand. The pains in the elbow and wrist are gone, but occasional bicep pain can still be felt. Shoulder aches with weather change. :o( I turned 58 one month after my surgery. Patience is key and doing your stretches. The strength training for me only started a few months after the surgery. Best wishes.

    • Edited

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I really appreciate it. I find it very helpful to see how others have coped or are coping with this surgery.

      Right now, I am just taking this one day at  a time. Working when I feel up to it, and doing my best to feel better. The pain is intense at times and I still take pain medication at night. I'm still in the immobilizer unless I'm doing my excercises, visiting PT, or taking a bath. I'm just starting week 5 post surgery. I'm driving with no problems and I'm happy for that!

    • Posted


      This exactly my story too.

      I am 47 and I'm ten months post op. I tore 2 tendons in a fall. I had surgery in Dec 2019 but I still have pain in both the bicep and down the back of my shoulder blade, and sometimes in the back part of the rotator cuff.

      The surgery I had included bicep release, 2 tendons reattachment (front and top), rotatory cuff bone spur removal - basically everything!

      My early recovery was unbelievably painful. I couldn't get comfortable at night and would get the resting nerve pain which was excruciating. My partner helped me with the physio but again that would often be so painful as the scar tissue was 'exercised'!

      I saw a physio up until the middle of March when lock down stopped it continuing but as that was three and a half months post surgery and my surgeon said I didn't need any further physio therapy I continued to do my exercises at home, increasing the exercises to above my head and behind my back to build strength.

      I am still getting pain, mainly as I have started swimming again, I also think I can carry heavier stuff than I can and it clearly isn't ready. Due to this I have returned to some of the more basic physio exercises - pendulum swing, neck flex, outward rotation etc to calm it down again.

      I consider myself very lucky as I do have full mobility of my arm, but this has lead me to over use it and think that I can do more than it clearly can take.

      I thought I was going mad still having pain so many months on.

      Thank you so much for your post as I now know I'm not the only one experiencing this and that I just have to relax and keep going with the physio.


  • Posted

    Buy a V pillow... and bank up with 2 other pillows... best thing for shoulder comfort.. Broke mine approx year ago - no surgery as  too difficult to pin n plate pieces and bones are a bit fragile. but they were so  impressed with healing they were speechless.. I made up my own  daily goal list as in reaching certain points or items in kitchen etc(never over reached) and rested for healing time.. I am having problems at present due to spasms in arm - this being connected to muscle and tendon damage which was never looked at initial start of treatment.
  • Edited

    I also had rotator cuff repair surgery in January of 2017, I am at about 10 weeks post op. I wish someone had told me what to expect- the pain that never subsides, and the inability to sleep at all at night! I went back to work ( I work at a high school) after 2 weeks as I couldn't stand being inactive at home. My PT started at 4 weeks and has been a roller coaster. I appreciate the stretching however excruciating it is as I feel like I can move again afterwards, but the throbbing pain at the same sight of one of my tears has me concerned. The surgeon will not MRI it until 12 weeks to see if it has retorn. My therapist is afraid to do much as it hurts so much- I have great range of motion but at what cost...

    Anyway it's the worst pain I have ever felt and I am wondering if I am going ceazy or if I am just impatient?? I am up all night with my tens unit and ice. Will it ever end?

    • Edited

      Karen. I am so sorry for your pain. The pain will get better. You are just going to have to do what feels right to you. Take your time. Do the icing and heat if you need to. My recliner was my friend for several weeks. I couldn't lay on my back for the LONGEST time. Keep doing your stretches to tolerance. Nobody knows your body like you do. My therapist was very good with acknowledging my pain threshold. Continuing your exercises is key. Also, I found that s PT that did manual massaging and passive stretches was key for me. But every one is different. If it is so painful that you can't do your stretches, maybe, maybe you need to back off a bit. Keep me posted. Best wishes. (I was told an MRI that soon after surgery wasn't possible or advisable...I don't know, but an mri that soon sure is going to show lots of stuff going on in there due to the actual surgery itself isn't it?.) ??

      Again, best wishes

    • Posted

      Karen, I really empathise with you and this forum was my salvation for many, many nights for a long time after my rotator cuff surgery.  It was reassuring to know that others had gone through the same and come out the other side.  I found the pain unbelievable and was so unprepared for it being so unrelenting.  The strongest of pain killers didn't touch it really just made me feel unwell in other ways. I used ice for the first few weeks then I preferred heat.  I tried lots of different methods to try to get some relief and really the only thing that had a positive efffect was time.  I still have the odd night (some 19 months on) when I wake up with a dull ache, both in my shoulder and elbow, but it doesn't last now.  I think because of the lack of sleep also, you don't feel you are living in the real world - I wasn't going to the gym, feeling sociable, all of the normal things I was used to doing.  I also went back to work but more for a distraction than anything else.  You don't get that in the small hours so it often feels so much worse.  After a good few months, I did get some deep tissue massage which helped immensely and made me realise I was ready to be a bit braver with exercise, but up to that point I was nervous of overdoing it, and also because of the pain that followed.  I got the throbbing pain too, but on reflection I guess given the type of surgery it would be odd for no reaction to exercising.

      I can at least confirm, as will many others, you are NOT going crazy.

    • Posted


      I haven't visited this site in quite a while, but I just read your entry. Your experience sounds a lot like mine. I am so sorry for the suffering you were having. How are you doing now?

      I was released by my surgeon May 5, 2017. My shoulder is still pretty sore and it gets stiff sometimes. Hot baths and stretching help. I'm curious to see what the one year mark will bring in December.

      I'm thinking of starting one-on-one Pilates

      work with a professional one day per week. Any thoughts on that?

      I wish for you the very best and hope you are enjoying a break from school and your healing has improved!

    • Edited

      I was so happy to find this site. Mine started in September with a frozen shoulder which we learned was caused by a tear in my rotator cuff. I had surgery to repair my rotator cuff and the surgeon also found that my bicep was torn. While in there he "trimmed" a bone in my shoulder and did manipulation and cleaning that they do for frozen shoulder. My surgery was January 18, 2018. I am one month post op and at and loss on how much pain I have in my arm and in the area of my rotator cuff.

      I have PT twice a week and the pain afterwards is terrible. My doctor said he expects me to have full range of motion at 8 weeks. However, I can't move my arm like he wants, am in pain constantly, my shoulder is "heavy". I know my rotator cuff was not completely torn off the bone, but it was torn and needed repair - I just had no idea it would take so long for recovery. It gets to you emotionally.

    • Posted

      I had my surgery 3/20/18. 3 weeks ago today. The pain is so bad at times. Especially at night. I had rotor cuff repair, 2 anchors also bone spurs. I had physical therapy after one week. It has been brutal. I happy to know I'm not just a big baby. I also had my neck fused 3,4 5 6 7 and a plate put in 10/18/17.

    • Posted

      I have not written on this for quite some time, but thought maybe now would be a good time to check in with everyone who shares similar experiences with this surgery. I am 15 months post op from rotator/bicep repair surgery. I also had a lot of bone spurs that required scraping. It was by far the hardest and most painful thing I have ever gone through. My brother warned me as he had similar surgery 10 years ago and I can remember him crying quite vividly...a grown, strong, tough man who works in construction reduced to tears. Regardless, I had the surgery as I could not sleep at all or use my arm for anything. I started therapy 4 weeks after, and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. About 12 weeks in, I was experiencing major pain so I had an ultrasound to see if everything was still in place. This was on the recommendation of my therapist, who I have learned to trust more than my doctor! It turned out my shoulder was inflamed with fluid, ( arthritis, so they said..) so I got a cortisone shot which they don't like to do so soon after surgery as it can inhibit healing and make the tissues weaker. It maybe helped 25% or so with the pain, so I soldiered on with my therapy. I was "cleared" by my doctor at 4 months. Which really meant they couldn't do much else for me. I worked hard at my exercises, took A LOT of advil, used a ton of ice, used my tens unit under my clothes at work, and eventually saw results. I had full range of motion back by 8 months, and worked on strength for the next 6 months. I couldn't believe I was still in therapy at 12 months! By now, my therapist and I were best friends! She finally told me she was cutting me loose and I stopped going, only to start again two weeks later. This time, tho, it is for my neck, which is also riddled with arthritis- not sure if it was always that bad and I just didn't realize it?? So- 15 months post op and I am happy to say that at least my shoulder that had surgery is manageable pain wise- but will never be pain free. The massages I get from the therapist are life changing. If anyone out there is in the middle of recovery, get yourself a great therapist who really cares and knows what they are doing. Although she was super pushy and hard on me, and I wanted to kill her early on, she was a lifesaver. Thank God my insurance is good and I can continue going indefinitely. I still take advil after my therapy, and sometimes at night to sleep better. 

      On a side note, my other shoulder which was worse but "unfixable" due to multiple tears and bone spurs, is acting up now and I can't sleep again! I am afraid I am going back to ortho soon..... guess that's the curse of bad genetics and bad luck. Sorry for the long post- I wish all of you out there a speedy recovery and want to say-don't get frustrated, it really does take a year. 

    • Posted

      The best therapy I have had had been my massage therapy. But ONLY if you get someone that knows what they are doing. The months out, so hurt st nights, but she has made my days where I can tolerate them! !
    • Posted

      My sling comes off today. I start massage therapy tomorrow with a licensed medical massage therapist. Luckily I grew up with a guy. I still want to chew off my arm the day after physical therapy. I don't know when that will stop. I also don't think that laser therapy is helping me. My two worst days were after laser therapy. 

    • Posted

      Oh I can so relate. I had surgery 11/14/18 for a torn cuff and bicep tendon. I am 8 weeks post op and can't believe I still have this much pain. I am exhausted, emotionally. The pain at night wakes me and I can't get back to sleep. It truly is emotionally exhausting. PT was ok the first time, but the pain afterwards (2am) was terrible. I am only doing PT approx every 10 days because of the expense. After the first PT visit I got smart and ice like its my job afterward. It is very emotionally draining.

    • Posted

      Keep up with the PT and the exercises, you may regret it otherwise. You may be surprised how much strength you will have lost. That loss of strength ends up causing more pain. 8 weeks, you are definitely in a bad part of the recovery. I am now week 45 and am still improving. I still have some pain, but, my arm can do more things that it could do even one month ago. Starting to get some strength back, had lost so much!

      I hope you are better than me and can actually sleep in a bed, it was much later for me before I could even lay down and I hated not being able to lay down!

    • Posted

      Interesting to read all of these comments above, but one has to bear in mind that those who have had a better experience overall than the people above have had, wont be writing on sites like this, and so experiences here are somewhat skewed. However, for those who are suffering greatly, it's a comfort to exchange experiences on this painful, and at times lonely suffering.

      My experience to date is that I had a massive, full thickness supraspinatus tendon tear (Part of the upper rotator cuff) in March 2018, as a result of falling 10/12 feet after the ladder I was on fractured, dropping me onto the floor like a sack of potatoes, resulting in hip, but mainly shoulder damage, which has required substantial repair. After the op, the surgeon said that the damage was greater than he had expected.

      Fast forward to January 2019, six weeks ago, when I finally had the operation, and having previously gone through a lot of discomfort & healing of everything else in the shoulder area (Including long head of biceps tendon), particularly in the first 3 months after the fall, I thought the aftermath of the operation would be fairly straightforward by comparison. Wrong! Nobody seems to want to tell you what you are about to experience. Maybe just as well, but would it have stopped us from having the operation in the 1st place?

      At six weeks I'm hoping that the basic healing is done, and am lucky that I've always slept in my bed since the op, although at times sleep wasn't easy. I'm unlucky in that I can't tolerate Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Codeine, which causes huge 'gastric' disturbance, and damage to my stomach. In the early stages I used Paracetamol suppositories, previously purchased in Holland, with small amounts of codeine at night, which caused some violent dreams, and has damaged my stomach lining, for which I'm being treated. Yet another battle front! However, I've not been on painkillers since week 4.

      Luckily, within the last week I've mainly been able to sleep at night, although with breaks for the loo, and sometimes discomfort, but overall I'm not complaining. Last night, with a break or two, I managed to sleep for 10 hours. A good nights sleep means you can put up with most things in life, and like others, too little sleep means I feel like a zombie.

      It might come as surprise to many, but I've worn the sling very little from day one, as it's just too uncomfortable, and obviously creates greater pressure on a nerve somewhere, as I feel increased discomfort over my biceps muscle. I do wear the sling when out & about, to prevent the arm being jostled about, and for the sympathy vote! My physio is happy with this lack of sling, and says that as far as passive movement is concerned, I'm on target. He feels that in future the wearing of a sling will be reviewed, as evidently not required by everyone, especially with the risk of a 'frozen shoulder' which I had 30 years ago, and was keen to avoid again at all costs this time.

      Another thing not mentioned before the op, was the possibility of things swelling. My fingers & hand feel like a pack if pork sausages, and there is a good deal of itching under the armpit, and not from lack of hygiene either! I'm informed this is likely to be from unhappy lymph nodes. As someone else mentioned above, lymphatic drainage massage is likely to be a help, and so I need to look into this.

      The physio says that the overall shoulder inflammation is likely to continue for 3 to 6 months, which came as a surprise to hear. Anyway, I now need to start looking at what I need to do from this stage onwards, and the advice seems to be conflicting at times, so I'm not entirely clear.

    • Posted

      Hi. I'm now at 10 months post op. I'm still hoping for that one year difference everyone talks about. I still have pain in my shoulder from my rotator cuff repair and i have acquired pain in my right shoulder blade. Worse than that I also have 3 bulging discs and a bone spur in my neck. These pains make it rough for me to be up on my feet styling hair everyday, ☹ I hope most of you are doing much better than me

    • Posted

      Yeah, I am at 50 weeks. It mostly works fine. Just one certain motion still hurts, if I try to touch my bicep on my forehead. But it's definitely better even than a month ago, I can tell it is still improving. I rate it 95% perfect. Which isn't bad. I am sorry to hear about the other pains you have on top of it. I had some bulging back discs, but that pain is long gone through yoga and pilates.

    • Posted

      Well I am new to the forum. I am at 4 1/2 weeks, had surgery March 5, 2019. Tendon repair and bone spur removal. I was able to stop heavy meds after 6 days and used Naproxen and Tylenol after that. About a week ago I was yawning in my recliner with sling on and stretched my should slightly and felt a pop (likely released an adhesion). I also took the sling off for a couple hours did a few things around the house (protecting the arm) but my shoulder has been increasing in pain. Each day it feels a little worse. Tolerable, but it is unnerving me because I am not doing much and its hurting. I start PT in 11 days. I was not prepared for this journey. My other shoulder is also torn, but I may not fix it. I can tolerate the discomfort there. I am not sure I can do this twice. Slightly overwhelmed. I went back to work two days ago. Need to make some income. I can tell my energy is not back yet. Everything seems to take twice the time and energy. I am always nervous that maybe I harmed based on the pain I am starting to get. Does this sound typical.

    • Posted

      I too, had rotator cuff repair on my dominant arm (full thickness tear, four anchors, "clean up,") 5 weeks ago on March 6th. As many here have described, the pain is shocking and I have had to take Percocet off and on since the beginning. (I cannot take NSAID's because I am also on blood thinner.) I went to PT after two weeks and only have a few exercises to do so far. I am sleeping on my back (I am a side sleeper) in a bed that elevates the head so I have managed to avoid the recliner, but the pain is still bad enough to keep me awake, or wake me up several times a night. Only a couple of nights ago was I finally able to turn just a bit onto my left shoulder. Sadly, that shoulder has begun to ache in the last several months as a result of using that arm almost exclusively because my other shoulder hurt so much. It's true, no one really tells you about the level of pain involved and as a result I have been nervous as well about re-injuring myself doing more than I should. I have been in the sling (not to sleep because I hate it--I use a pillow tucked under my arm instead) most of the day, but I do take it off quite a bit since it often seems to aggravate the pain especially when I'm sitting. I probably do more than is recommended most days (a bit of cooking or washing the dishes, a few household chores) but it's so hard to tell what "too much" is since the ache is constant. It just feels impossible to keep the shoulder from moving 24/7. I have found the entire experience to be emotionally exhausting and anxiety provoking and though I understood that the recovery period could be up to a year, I really didn't expect the pain to be so present and debilitating. Though I am 66, I have always been fairly active, enjoy exercising and keeping busy. This surgery has really knocked the wind out of me on every level. It has helped however, to read all these posts and realize that my experience is not so unusual.

    • Posted

      We are on the same time line. We should occupationally compare notes. Just started physical therapy yesterday. Ouch! But OK. Thanks for your encouragement and hang in there. I am a bit shocked about how much it has taken out of me as well and miss my more active lifestyle. I am finally back in a bed and out of the recliner last week. I started back to work as well. I still needed to put my arm in a sling when I walk longer then 1/2 mile. It just hurt to much. I am going to talk to the PT about sling use for long walks. Take care!

    • Posted

      I had the same thing happen when walking. I thought with the arm in a sling it would be okay but it didn't help. Everything is connected and your muscles are still working even though you think they are immobilized. I had to back off in distance and build up slowly. Even jiggling the arm in a car ride while in the sling made it ache. Everything comes back but not as quickly as you would like.

    • Posted

      So sad and yet the pain I am feeling today after a one mile hike is confirming your assumption. Time to slow down my jets. Any info on swimming and its harm or benefit in the early months? My association pool opens next month and I will be in Santa Cruz in two weeks at a resort.

    • Posted

      I was told no swimming for awhile. Check with your PT. Funny, I was in Santa Cruz 2 weeks ago. So foggy it was like walking through water. I had forgotten.

    • Posted

      On your "unfixable" arm you may need total shoulder replacement. My sugeon told me that is a quicker recovery than rotator cuff repair. My son-in-law is having it done in a few weeks. They can't fix his shoulder anymore. They told him that within about 4 months he can do the 60 lb lifting he needs to do on his job.

    • Posted

      New to the forum here. Cliffy the mailman. I share a lot of your same issues. This is my story. Maybe a bit winded, but I found this thread while awake at 4 in the morning. Who ever said sleep is overrated should try this. Went to a reputable orthopedic and sports medicine practice last year because I was having so much pain in my left shoulder. They did an mri and the Dr. said I have a tear in my rotator cuff. He said that I could try cortizone injections and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around it to minimize the pain. As long as I could sleep and deal with it. Fast forward to this February. Pain in my right shoulder has become unbearable. New mri on that shoulder reveals a tear and muscle tendon issues. Recommendation is to repair. Okay, let's do the surgery. ARTHROSCOP ROTATOR CUFF REPR, Repair biceps long tendon rupture, Arthscpy shldr dstl claviculectomy, Arthscpy shldr decompression, are the procedures that were done. Repair the tear, cut the biceps tendon and reattach it to an anchor, clear out shredded muscle, and shave the bone to allow clearance without rubbing. He didn't know how bad the tendon was till he got in and had to make a big incision under my arm pit to do that repair. The arm pit and bicep muscle after was a whole issue of it's own. My bother had a similar situation about 8 years ago and tried to talk me out of it. That was done on March 5. Wore the sling with the bump for 6 weeks and did fluffy exercises at home twice a day and PT with fluffy stuff once a week. Since then the sling has been off and the real PT has begun 3 times a week. I feel medium pain and discomfort all the time. They do ice and the tens unit for 15 minutes after each PT. I'm right handed so this has been a real learning experience. I do have quite a bit of range in motion back, but very little strength. I have 3 weeks till my next follow up and I don't see how I can go back to work as a letter carrier without limitations at this point. I walk 12 to 16 miles a day at work. That's no problem. Casing in the morning and lifting 50lb trays of mail, carrying a mail sack and opening and closing the sliding door on the van will be a challenge. One thing I can't do yet is to get my arm very far behind my back. The first time I drove after the sling came off, I instinctively put my right hand on the back of the passenger side head rest the look behind me for backing. That pain lasted quite a while. My biggest problem at this point is sleep. I feel like a walking zombie. I've tried everything. I'm still in the recliner, but I can't sleep with this discomfort. Everytime I start to fall asleep, bam. I plan to go to my regular doctor to ask for some ambien, or maybe some antianxiety medicine.

    • Posted

      I ran across this forum today while searching for something to tell me that at one week shy of eight months post op for a full thickness tear repair, subacromial decompression and distal clavicle resection, pain and generalized discomfort in the entire shoulder, shoulder blade and upper arm is not mine alone!

      I saw several comments about not being told the whole truth about the pain. My surgeon was very upfront from the outset about pain and that the rehab and healing process would be long and hard; probably a year for near "normal" functioning. He also stressed that it can't be rushed. Even knowing this, I'm really tired of nursing this shoulder!!!!

    • Posted

      Wow! All you went through and may still be going through. I'm heading into tenth week post rotary cuff surgery, massive tear they said. I'm 65 and plan to just retire since I've always done physical work. Yes, this thing is very hard to get through physically , mentally and $$ wise. My left shoulder ( good one , not worked on) stings at times, since I use it more I guess. I truely will not go thru another surgery unless I get pain every night as I did with this other shoulder. Well I mostly got on this reply to say you Must be a Strong Person mentally, to be able to go through all that. I felt like not going back to my PT a week ago since it hurt So Bad, but I am continuing it. Good Luck to you and if you can do it, it should inspire us all. Thanks !

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the community to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the community are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the community is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.