So frustrated after Rotator Cuff repair

Edited , 6 users are following.

Forgive me in advance for whining... but I am just so frustrated. I had a full thickness tear repaired 10 weeks ago, and I have followed all instructions from surgeon and PT to a T. I work on a computer all day, and it is so painful, just like before the surgery. I am literally in tears every afternoon and have to take so many breaks during the day. I feel like my spirit is just broken and I don't know how much more I can take. My right hand gets freezing cold after 20-30 minutes at my PC and it stays that way until I stop. I take muscle relaxers to sleep at night, and have so much pain when I wake up from rolling onto the operated shoulder. I know I'm not too far into recovery, but I just was hoping for some relief at this point?! Also, my shoulder looks deformed and it scares me. It is kind of curled forward and sticking out on the top and front. I can't even force it into a normal position like the other shoulder with good posture. Does anyone else have pain while on a computer or this deformed look? I go back to my doctor in 2 weeks. My PT is fabulous and very compassionate and understanding. I trust him completely. He is trying to help. My ROM is improving and is actually where it should be at this point, but I'm just so tired of the pain, especially using my arm all day. I want to be able to go to the grocery store, cook, do normal activities that require BOTH hands! I'm single and have no help so it's just frustrating. Sorry for the rant, I hope everyone is getting better.

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  • Posted

    sadly, it can take year to recovery.

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  • Posted

    I am six months postop and still have pain, I had complete rotator cuff tears and bicep repair. The severe pain didn’t let up until past three months but I haven’t slept well in six months. I keep doing my PT at home as it got too expensive for me to do pass the three month mark and I can see slow improvement I still have pain and restless nights. I too felt at my shoulder was curving forward and my PT did several manipulations like a massage to help with that but I didn’t have the other raised shoulder as you have indicated. I’ve been told to expect pain till the 12 month mark. I am just now able to carry a case of water which is 25 pounds. Talk to your surgeon and your PT and hang in there! Take care

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    • Posted

      I'm so sorry you still have pain after 6 months. I can't imagine! But it's encouraging that you can lift 25 pounds. I still can't lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee. I think part of my frustration is that I didn't know there was a tear before the surgery. I thought I would just be in a sling for 2 weeks. Thanks for your encouragement!

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    • Posted

      thank you for your kind words! It is a Tough process. I think the hardest part is the unknown we just don’t know what to expect next and feel like it’s never going to get better but it does get better it’s just very slow. I may have to have my left shoulder done I will find out next week since I hurt both of my arms at the same time. Hang in there ask your PT and your doctor questions don’t be afraid to ask.

      Wishing you a speedy recovery stay positive

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  • Edited

    Hi, Lisa:

    I think you have a right to complain and those of us on this forum sympathize with you that's what it's for actually.

    Shoulder surgery and post surgery and recovery is definitely a drain on your emotions and mind. It plays games with you and you need to have constant reassurance and encouragement from both your surgeon and physical therapist. You should tell your surgeon and therapist how you feel and your concerns. It might help if you had some family member to reassure you but unless they have the authority and expertise of a PT or surgeon it doesn't really have the same effect of reassuring your troubled state of mind.

    Here are my practical suggestions as a 2 shoulder surgery patient now in the 3rd year of recovery:

    SLEEPING and RESTING. If you aren't comfortable in a recliner with a pull up arm assist on the side then you can try laying in your bed. Personally, I raised my bed at a 10 degree angle. Put books under the bed post feet at the head of the bed, raising it to whatever level is comfortable. Surround yourself with pillows for your head, under your arm, in positions that make you feel comfortable. If you're a side sleeper it may be difficult adjusting to sleeping on your back, I know but you certainly don't want to aggravate your condition by sleeping on the affected arm.

    PAIN RELIEF. I'm sure you are acquainted with Biofreeze that your PT probably massages into your shoulder? You can use that as well available usually from any store like Walmart. I also used a Tens machine which is a smaller version of the Electro-Stim that your Therapist used on your arm. And of course the old standby of using ICE either in a plastic bag and towel for 20 minutes at a time. Or you can even use an Ice Machine and leave it on pretty much all day. The doctors seem eager to prescribe pain meds but I only took that for a few days as I didn't like possible side effects, but if that helps especially to sleep at night I would use it for a few weeks.

    While recovering, I could only work on the computer as well. I didn't experience as much trouble as you but I'm wondering if you have a proper ergonomic setup. I use a desktop computer with a Microsoft multimedia Ergonomic Keyboard with a split keyboard design and built in padded palm rest. My chair is adjustable so that I can position my arms at a comfortable relaxed position on the keyboard bent at a 90 degree angle at the elbows. The top of the monitor is level with the top of my head and my eyes looking straightforward intersect with the middle of the monitor screen.

    Improperly using a keyboard/monitor especially with a laptop can lead to discomfort and pain. It's a good idea to take breaks every half hour maybe even every 15 minutes if you are having trouble and walk around.

    If you're PT says you are making progress that's good, obviously the PT can see the improvement. I know it's frustrating and taxing. I went into surgery for my right shoulder with 100% ROM and excellent strength but after surgery was very weak and stiff. The improvement comes slowly although it can be quicker for others depending on their age, extent of injury presurgery, etc.

    Hang in there, you are getting better everyday and I think you should tell your PT and surgeon all these concerns you have. Patients are sometimes afraid to do that. If you don't speak up for yourself, who will?

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    • Posted

      Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! I have not tried BioFreeze, and my PT really hasn't massaged anything into it. He does some manual ROM stretching, and the rest of it is heat, ice and the exercises I'm assigned. I've never used a Tens unit and he hasn't done Electro-Stim. You have given me some great topics to discuss.

      Also, my workspace is probably as far away from ergonomic as it could be. I will look into that as well, a lot of my pain comes from using a laptop that sits at the edge of my desk in front of another monitor. I have no support for my arms when using that keyboard.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful reply! It gives me something to try!

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    • Edited


      I rest my elbows on my adjustable height chair arms to give it support as well sometimes. It takes the load off the shoulder while typing.

      You definitely need to tell your therapist to start using the electro stimulation. It completely relieved the pain and the biofreeze is long lasting. I can't imagine your PT NOT doing this considering the pain you are going through. There is no reason for you to be suffering like this. I'm wondering about the others on here who reply that they have pain as well and that you should expect pain for a year!

      How many of you out there used biofreeze? or an Ice Machine? An ice machine might be covered by your insurance. I kept mine on for like 10-16 hours a day during the first couple of weeks. It numbed my shoulder to the point I stopped taking pain meds after day 2.

      Also the Tens unit is very cheap and available on Amazon for $30. You can wear it under your clothes and keep it on all day if you want. It pretty much relieved the pain for me as well. I'd go about daily chores wearing it.

      And your therapist needs to massage your shoulder, back, neck. All of those are connected. Your affected arm places a strain on all parts of your body resulting in kinks, knots, strains. My therapist was able to feel those troubled areas in my neck and back and arm and massage them away. It felt so good and was like miraculous.

      Yes, definitely talk to your therapist. If that therapist is not sympathetic or is not giving you the treatment you deserve to relieve pain, request another therapist. I can't tell you how important a good therapist is in recovery.

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    • Edited

      I forgot to mention 2 other things:

      ROM stretching... Ouch! I told my therapist that hurt if they were too over zealous. Speak up. If they stretch it too much it can cause a lot of pain later. It's why I took extra time and effort to stretch my arm on my own up against a wall or pole standing up. Laying down and raising my arm behind my head. Using an exercise ball while kneeling or standing and pushing on it forward and sideways palm up and down.

      Also, they also did Ultra sound massage. It looks kinda like a gun and they go over your arm and shoulder with it. You don't feel anything but it's supposed to reach deep into your tissue and encourage healing. It's usually part of the electro stim machine a combo.

      Mention this to your PT...if it's a good therapist he'll listen and incorporate it into your therapy. Tell them it's 'medically necessary' (because of all your pain ) as that may help if there are insurance problems.

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    • Posted

      Thank you Mike! I have a friend coming over after work to help me with a wireless mouse and keyboard, and to try to find a new chair that will help - such great suggestions! My PT is amazing - he's rehabed my daughter after two fairly severe dance injuries and I totally trust him. My doctor referred me to him rather than the ones in his clinic. He's not stretching me to the point of pain, I guess it's more just gentle movement and checking my ROM to be sure it's progressing. Since I'm only 10 weeks out they haven't introduced those other exercises for me yet, I'm hoping that will come soon. He did tell me today that the Tens unit would be fine to use for pain if I wanted to order one.

      I see my doc again in two weeks, so I will discuss the pain more with him. I'm currently taking Aleve twice a day. I only took two pain pills after surgery, and not because I really needed them, the doctor just recommended that I take it to stay in front of the pain when the nerve block wore off. I had no pain while I was in my immobilizer, it's just been since I'm sitting and working on my PC that I'm really hurting.

      I'm also just in the middle of a great big pity party (LOL) I still haven't settled the claim with my insurer, I was in a hit and run with an uninsured driver (got his license plate and tracked him down) and I'm facing a huge back surgery. I've already had neck surgery, the accident was in April of 2018. We have mediation scheduled for March 31st, it just stinks that my own insurance company is making me go through all that. They upsold me soooo much on my coverage, I've had at least one policy with them for over 30 years, and now when I have a claim I've had to hire an attorney. I appreciate everyone's kindness and encouragement!

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  • Posted

    Hello Lisa- I feel for you! I had MY shoulder done 2 yrs ago right now. The pain was SO bad all I did was cry.

    So without going into my crazy story..I'll say this.

    Don't go on the just can't. Or if you do, keep you operated arm/shoulder in that sling and do not move it. It needs to heal. You are just irritating it more and the recovery will be longer.

    Mine took until 8 months for the pain to be gone. My PT helped a lot...and my daughter would massage my arm neck and around the shoulder each morning. I rolled on the lacrosse ball against the wall all the time and did whatever the PT person told me to do.

    Being on the computer is making it worse. Do not lay on that shoulder at all either. You should be sleeping on your back still.

    Good luck with it all..I promise it will be better soon. But you must let it be and let it heal!

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