For as long as you can remember, your sport has been a major part of your life, from practice to games to off-season conditioning. Then in a blink of an eye, you’re sidelined due to a rotator cuff injury that required surgery. This group of muscles and tendons, which helps keep your upper arm firmly in your shoulder socket, is one of the reasons you’re able to pitch a no-hitter or place the tennis ball in the putaway zone every time.
Despite the injury and the surgery, you may be more than anxious to get back to your No. 1 passion, and you may want to know just how long you need to sit out. At Orthopedic & Physical Medicine, we know you want us to say “soon,” but your road to recovery depends on many factors. Dr. David Duffner and the rest of our team will do everything we can to make sure your recovery from rotator cuff surgery goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Surgery: the first step in your recovery
How quickly you return to your sport may depend partly on what type of surgery you need to repair your rotator cuff injury. Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of control over this, as it generally depends on the severity of your injury.
The good news is, in most cases, we can perform arthroscopic surgery to repair shoulder injuries. During this outpatient procedure, we use small incisions and a surgical camera to repair the damage to your rotator cuff, which usually means a faster recovery and a lot less pain.
However, if your rotator cuff injury is large or complex, we may need to perform a traditional open shoulder surgery, which requires a large incision and movement of your deltoid muscle so we can access your rotator cuff and repair the damage. Due to the complexity of your injury and the more invasive surgery, you may be on the bench a little longer.
Speeding up the process with regenerative medicine
You may not have much control over the type of surgery needed to repair your rotator cuff injury, but we can use innovative tools and techniques to help accelerate the healing process so you can return to your sport faster. At Orthopedic & Physical Medicine, we offer regenerative medicine, including stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, to jumpstart the repair process.
Stem cells are the blank cells in your body that have the ability to transform themselves into new muscle, tendons, or ligaments. Unfortunately, your body’s stem cells may not work as quickly as you’d like. To help move things along, we offer stem cell injections which have a high concentration of stem cells in a small amount of blood.
Our platelet-rich plasma injections work in a similar fashion as the stem cell injections, but we obtain the healing properties from a sample of your own blood. You may know that the platelets in your blood stop your cuts from bleeding by forming clots, but you may not be aware that your platelets are also a source of growth factors and specialized proteins that help generate new tissue to repair damage. PRP injections contain a high concentration of these properties and add extra support to your body’s repair process, which may shorten your recovery time.
Your active participation
If your goal is to return to the game as quickly as possible, then you need to follow our instructions to the letter. You may not want to hear this, but we may require that you keep your arm immobilized in a sling for as long as six weeks.
Once your rotator cuff has healed, you start physical therapy. The exercises and treatments recommended by your physical therapist help you regain range of motion and strength in your shoulder and arm.
You may need several months of physical therapy before you’re strong enough to return to your sport. But stressing your shoulder before you’re fully ready may delay your recovery. While recovery time varies, it may take 4-6 months until you’re back doing what you love best.
A rotator cuff injury doesn’t mean the end of your active life. With the right care, you can recover safely and get back to your sport fairly quickly. For expert management of your sports injury, call our office in Rancho Mirage, California, or request an appointment online today.