View Full Version : Recovery from rotator cuff tear surgery

August 8th, 2013, 11:13 AM
I have not been able to swim without a lot of pain since April. A few weeks ago, based on an MRI and needle fluoroscopy, I was diagnosed with a 50% tear of my right rotator cuff. The orthopedist that diagnosed me is having me do 6 weeks of PT before we follow up. So far the PT seems to have increased the pain, even though I am doing the very very basic.

I have looked at the archives here, and some of the shoulder surgery threads are older and a lot of them have responses from people who had issues with their labrum and SLAP tears mixed in with those who had rotator cuff tears.

I am hoping that I might be able to get some feedback from people who have had surgery to repair their rotator cuffs recently....things I can do before surgery to improve outcome, afterwards, etc.

I should have reached out earlier. When people ask me if it is very painful, I tell them, "Only when I sleep and swim," and they don't "get" it. While breastroke is not painful, I am shealing up a tear in my MCL, so I have to be careful with my knee and breastroke kick.
Sleepless (and Swimless) in Seattle

Allen Stark
August 8th, 2013, 04:22 PM
I can't help you with knowledge about the surgery as I am pretty much in exactly the same situation as you,except I can't swim breaststroke without pain either.At my last orthopedist appointment they thought I probably wouldn't need surgery,but no swimming(no pulling anyway for 2 more months.)I wish you well.I was told rehab from surgery was 6-12 months.

August 8th, 2013, 04:38 PM
The USMS webmaster (forum user name matysekj) had surgery almost exactly one year ago. He's in Mission Viejo right now, swimming in the USMS Summer Nationals. He posted some details of his surgery and recovery in this thread:


August 8th, 2013, 10:42 PM
Here is an update on my situation. Exactly 24 weeks ago I had a three hour operation to repair my shoulder. I had suffered a major (complete tear) of the subscapularis and partial tears of the supraspinatus and infraspinatatus 5 weeks previous. First the good news. Today I met with my surgeon and he was extremely pleased with my progress - excellent flexibility and outstanding strength - he says I should be completely back at one year.
OK news - I still have some weakness in abduction and flexibility problems reaching up behind my back. He also wants me to wait 2 more weeks - until 6 full months - to resume "swimming". Full disclosure - since he gave me permission to enter the water at 3 weeks, when my incisions healed, I have been in the water gradually more, up to 6 x per week, the last 4 months. I have been doing much kicking and many kinds of sculling (which looks a lot like swimming) except for no freestyle or butterfly recovery with my repaired side.
Bad news - everyone says the recovery is horrible and they are right. I appreciated all the advice I got here and it really helped. Pain meds didn't work well for me but nearly full time icing for three weeks did. I also "slept" reclined for 6 weeks until I was out of the brace. The first four months went SO slowly and there were many times I didn't think I would get better. After I started seeing some strength gains I had more optimism and the last month went pretty fast.
I would recommend doing everything you can to get the rest of your body as strong as possible - great time to maximize core strength! One of my mantras was "patience makes for good patients". Good luck!

August 8th, 2013, 11:58 PM
Thank you all. I'll let you know how my appointment goes in the first week of September. In the meantime, lots of walking with my dog and riding bikes with my 9yo, spending as much time up and about as I can.