After suffering a rotator cuff injury, the recovery process can vary for each patient. The rotator cuff includes four smaller muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. The muscles provide stabilization keeping the ball of the humerus in place.

Rotator cuff injuries happen when the muscles become wholly or partially torn. This can result from a sudden movement during a sporting event or due to wear and tear from everyday use.

Most patients will feel pain and lose the strength in their shoulder when suffering a rotator cuff injury. It can be challenging to raise your arm over your head if you have injured your rotator cuff.

Arthroscopic Surgery for Rotator Cuff Injuries

A standard method of treating rotator cuff injuries is arthroscopic surgery. The surgeon can fix small and large tears entirely without the need for a large incision. Typically, the incision will be less than 1 centimeter in size.

Most patients will recover faster after arthroscopic surgery compared to traditional open surgery.

A Few Things to Expect with Rotator Cuff Recovery


It is common for your doctor to give you some precautions after surgery for a rotator cuff injury. You may need to avoid using the affected shoulder for several days or weeks. This may include avoiding raising your arm and carrying items with the affected arm.

Wearing a Sling

A special slink will likely be used after surgery to keep your shoulder immobile. You might need to use a sling for about six weeks, depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

Physical Therapy

Once your rotator cuff has recovered enough, your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and gain back your range of motion. It is common to spend about 12 weeks going to physical therapy for a rotator cuff injury.

Exercises will start with gentle movements of the shoulder, and your physical therapist will likely check the fit of the sling. They may ask you about your pain and provides home exercises you can do on your own time.

Initial sessions will focus on gaining your range of motion back. As you progress through physical therapy, you will advance into exercises aimed at gaining back your strength.

When Will You Return to Normal Activities?

Rotator cuff recovery will vary from one patient to another. However, it is common to return to normal everyday activities after three to four months. This may include simple things like reaching a high shelf or sleeping on the affected side.

If you are an athlete, it will likely take six to eight months to get back to lifting weights or performing athletic activities with your shoulder. The healing process takes time, and patience is vital with rotator cuff recovery.

It will take some time and some work on your part to fully recover from a rotator cuff injury. Your age and the severity of the injury will play a role in how long recovery will take. Ensure you listen to your doctor and do as they tell you to ensure you recover as quickly as possible.