Pain in the shoulder occurs for many reasons. A tear in the rotator cuff is usually the common culprit in orthopedic injuries among adults, athlete or not. India’s ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, who has been struggling with pain in the right shoulder rotator cuff, recently announced that he is skipping the Tshwane Open in South Africa later this month to rest and recuperate.

Even the eight-year Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp is dealing with rotator cuff pain. Kemp had surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff damage in the left shoulder in October 2012. Last season it was clear that his shoulder was bothering him, taking generous swings at the plate, so he had another surgery to correct that issue. It is clear to see that recovering from arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is an uphill battle to gain full strength. However, there are ways to relieve stress after surgery.

Recovery After Repair

Most rotator cuff injuries are seen in people over 50 years of age, but many athletes who use their arms for sporting activities experience this due to repetitive stress. The goal of rotator cuff repair is to attach the torn tendon back to the bone in the area it was torn off. Small sutures will help anchor the tendon in place and any transitional tissue left behind will be removed from the injury site.

After rotator cuff repair, the surgeon and and staff will attempt to make the resting period as stress-free as can be. There are many pain management steps to help relieve pain after surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons the types of medicine available include:

  • Opioids
  • Anesthetics (regional and local)
  • >Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Combination method

It is important to realize that motion and pain are related after rotator cuff repair. However as motion and exercise improve, the pain will subside.

Active Phase and Beyond

Up until the first six weeks after rotator cuff repair, stress and discomfort are likely to be experienced as the shoulder regains the ability to function. The active phase allows the patient to discontinue use of the postoperative sling and engage in physical therapy. The goal is to achieve full range of motion while not overstressing the reconstructed tendon.

Many patients make a full recovery which maintains stability for long-term use. However, when high-level and professional athletes do too much too soon they are likely to have pain and shoulder instability. Following your orthopedic surgeon’s rehabilitation plan closely will assist the progression of surgery with as little pain possible. When chronic pain and stress occur the shoulder you may need further arthroscopic repair.