Q: My husband tore his rotator cuff lifting weights. Is there anything he can do to help it heal?
A: Rotator cuff injuries are a common source of shoulder pain and dysfunction. While non-operative treatment can be appropriate in some cases, surgical treatment is often required. Surgery is the preferred treatment for younger, more active patients with large or complete tears, particularly those that are the result of an injury. Due to developments in surgical techniques, surgeons can now do these repairs through an arthroscopic procedure rather than through traditional open surgery. The arthroscopic procedure takes about an hour and patients may return home the same day. Rehabilitation, which includes visits with a trained physical therapist and a guided home exercise program, usually begins immediately, and most patients will need to wear a sling for 4-6 weeks. After sling removal, a patient can use his or her arm for normal daily activities, but should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous use. Strengthening exercises are normally started at 12 weeks, and return to full activities is expected at 4-6 months. The results of rotator cuff repair are quite good overall. Most patients are very satisfied and the benefits tend to hold up well over time.
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