Rotator Cuff Repair DIYSteve Recovery (full thickness supraspinatus, 2/3 infraspinatus)


Jul 8, 2018
United States United States
I'm 32 days post-op after February 1, 2023 surgery to repair full thickness supraspinatus tear and 2/3 infraspinatus tear. Schedule to be released from sling prison on March 14.

I'm currently looking for guidance re expected recovery arc, e.g., how soon can I expect to lift my arm above my shoulder, lift arm overhead, play golf, etc.

I'm a big BoneSmart fan, having previously contributed to the forum after successful TKR surgery in July 2018 and HR surgery in April 2022. I'm very active: skier (downhill, touring and XC), hiker, backpacker, mountaineer, birdwatcher, golf, DIY hobbiest (metalwork, bicycle framebuilding, knifemaking, building stuff, sewing, etc.)

Hi @DIYSteve and welcome back and thanks for sharing about your previous surgeries. I see you've been a great contributor for quite a while.

Since I haven't had shoulder surgery (yet...), I can't offer any guidance. However, I'm tagging two other staff members (@djklaugh @Jamie) who have had shoulder replacements so they will see your request and stop by to share their insights!
@DIYSteve Have you started PT yet? Repairs to muscles and tendons can take longer to heal than total shoulder replacement. And rehab for such repairs can also be longer and more gradual. You do need to be quite careful to not re-injure the repaired places.

I have not had repairs such as yours .... but with each of my shoulder replacements it took several months before each arm would easily stretch over my head. And about 4-5 months before I was discharged from PT with a fully functional shoulder.

I would suggest asking your surgeon and/or PT about a time line for your particular situation.
Hi! Sorry that I did not respond sooner. Unlike the hip and knee forums, the shoulder recovery boards tend to be sparse so I do not visit often.

I had my surgery on 11/14/22. I had major (although not complete tear) in bicep tendon and major owies in rotator cuff. Since I was in the gym several times a week, I started off with more strength, rom and flexibility than most. The day before surgery, I had almost complete ROM -- and pretty much the same, 10 days after. As a result, I breezed through the early weeks of physical therapy. I've had a cramp under my shoulder blade for 6 weeks+ in the rotator cuff area. That significantly slowed all of the strengthening exercises. However, I just tried a TENS unit 4 days ago and the cramp is gone! Of course, that pain being gone just means that I've noticed the pain in my bicep (where it was reattached) more! After seeing my PT on Monday, with his ok, that's my next focus.

As for speed of recovery: My doctor says that it is a full year for recovery, but the goal is to feel minimal pain and return (for me) to the gym at six months. He also told me that he looks for 10% improvement per month.

As for you current discomfort: I spent the first six weeks using a wedge pillow (from Amazon). I still did not sleep well but it was better than lying flat. I felt better when I was "promoted" to the sling without the padding. Then, it would hurt if my elbow moved back toward my ribs to much. Flat pillow under the elbow helped -- sorta'.

Once you are out of the sling, your initial aches and pains will come from doing too much. That actually is some small progress since it means you are doing things that you couldn't before. Not being awakened at night can happen at around 4 months. It would have for me without the rotator cuff cramp.

I always loved the way heat felt at the beginnig of PTand never really liked icing at the end of PT. I've found that when my shoulder becomes sore in the evening, it's from doing to much and that icing helps reduce the inflammation. At some point around 5-6 mos, the pain will be replaced by the feeling of tightness. Just be careful to do your PT exercises -- but don't be an overachiever! You can do too much of a good thing and trigger enough inflammation to require a steroid to bring it down.

Best of luck! It's a slow journey but it does get better.


Thank you so much for the world of information!
I get my right arm reverse rotator cup surgery on May 10th and I am prepping for this first event. Just had my Pre-Op tests like EKG & Bloodwork done yesterday so here it comes!

Thanks again!

Mark, I've heard of reverse shoulder replacements but never reverse rotator cup surgery! I'll have to look that up! I hope it is successful you and gets you back to where you want to be SOON!

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