Rotator Cuff Surgery Rehab: Faster is Better
Extensive rehabilitation is often needed after a rotator cuff repair surgery because of the weeks of immobilization needed to help the sewn rotator cuff muscle or tendon to heal. This time in a shoulder brace (immobilized) can cause the muscles of the rotator cuff to become weak and in need of strengthening. The question is, should this rehab be performed slowly or can it be more aggressive? A study out this week suggests that more aggressive is better. The study looked at a slow rotator cuff surgery rehab protocol versus an accelerated rehab. The winner? The more aggressive rehab group had no more pain after surgery and much better function at 8, 12, and 16 weeks after surgery. The reason? We’re built to heal on the fly. Speak to any veterinarian who operates on animals and the concept of placing an animal in a brace and keeping them off the area for extended periods of time just won’t work. If you’ve ever watched a dog recover from surgery, they’re down hard for a little while and then the moment they can get back on the area, they hit the ground running. This is consistent with research models of healing-generally the more the part is used, the better it heals. Our experience with our stem cell shoulder rotator cuff treatment is the same, since less trauma occurs in an injection, an extensive period of downtime isn’t needed when treating a partial rotator cuff tear. As a result, we agree with the findings of this rotator cuff surgery recovery study, more aggressive rehab is better. In fact, we would go one step further, if there’s a partial rotator cuff injury, consider non-surgical, stem cell injection based methods of repair, which will cause even less immobilization of the shoulder and in our clinical experience, quicker recovery.