Slow recovery after rotator cuff repair

Hi my husband had his op in December last year, they repaired a tendon tear and cleaned the bone. He has been having physio, but this was stopped 3 weeks ago as the physio thinks there is something not right, she said he should have more movement than he has at this stage, he has been unable to drive so unable to work too. He is waiting to see consultant and or top physio at the hospital, this will be next Monday. His physio seems to think he has some swelling and inflamation in his shoulder which is ceasing the shoulder up. She said if they can give him an injection then maybe she will be able to manipulate the shoulder better. I have read that it could be Frozen Shoulder secondary to the operation. Has anyone had any experience of this? Any help greatly appreciated. He is in some considerable pain and loss of movement at the moment. They are phoning him from work as they thought he would be back after about 2 months.

Thanks for reading


12 Replies

  • Hi there...I can fully sympathise with the pain your husband is going through. I had left subacromial decompression in 2013....2 years ago (bone spur removed, calcium deposit debulked and removal of bursa sac). The pain on recovery was immense despite being fully compliant with all the physio exercises. It took me 6 months to be able to sleep on that side and to functionally use my arm to dress and small household tasks and I was off work for 6weeks at that time... I am a teacher so you can imagine the difficulty that proved to be at school. I would say it took a year to feel the benefits and this was verified by orthopaedic surgeon.

    While in recovery, imagine my despair when I felt similar pain in my right arm(my dominant arm). Via x-ray and ultra sound it was proved that I had a partial thickness tear in my rotator cuff and degenerative changes. Despite physio, the surgeon booked me in last May for further surgery. School were hopping mad and the stress of which sent my blood pressure dangerously high and I had to be hospitalised. I was at risk at 52 of a heart attack and stroke. I was signed off until the summer!

    But what of the need for surgery on my right shoulder? The surgeon booked me in for last October and I have been in much the same position as your husband. My recovery has been slow (they shaved the bone and cleaned up the tendon but did not repair the partial thickness tear). The pain has been unbearable and I have felt demented. The surgeon again signed me off but I resigned due to the level of pain I was in. My physio also said during my sessions that my level of pain was disproportionate to the operation. Though I had good range of movement, the pain radiating from my neck through my shoulder and down to my fingers was worrying.

    My surgeon ordered a CT scan which I had 10 days ago (don't get the results until June) when I next see him and referred me on about my hands.... Saying I now have carpel tunnel...really? I had none of this before my right shoulder surgery and will not be fobbed off! Who gives their job up in this climate? I really have been in so much pain. In clinic the ultra sound showed excess fluid in the joint and I had a cortisone shot into the joint on 24th Feb which has reduced the pain though not taken it away.

    I carry on daily with my physio to keep the shoulder working and to make it strong... Despite there being a small no one can say I am not compliant with the protocol of recovery. Only now 6 months later finding that I can carry small bags and do very small tasks around the house... Sleeping is still agony as is external and internal rotation(like screwing or turning action) and I am hoping he is not going to say the CT scan shows arthritis!

    Please get your husband to pester his surgeon, even ring the secretary to bring an appointment forward. This level of pain is common, though he should not ignore it as it is disrupting his progress.....

    Mine told me any shoulder surgery is worse than a hip replacement as 7 major nerves come out from the neck and converge under the color I suppose nerve involvement is possible. It is true that a frozen shoulder can happen if the shoulder is not put through a particular range of movement, so gentle pendulum and arcs are necessary to keep the range good.

    Best wishes for a resolution


  • hi, I had the same operation in 2008, I eventually had to have manipulation under anaesthetic and it certainly helped. wishing you oth the best x

  • Ask the GP if he can do a two week course of erythromycin. Google "erythromycin and anti-inflamatory effects".

    I have taken this for inflammation in the shoulder joint in the past and it works very well.

    Hope this helps

  • Thank you all for your replies, he has his appointment on Monday so will see what can be done. Will let you know how he gets on. Sorry you all suffered too.


  • I am sorry for your husband - I have had something similar. Tendons take a long time to heal. See a chiropracter good luck

  • Thank you for your reply, he is seeing his consultant on Monday, so we will know more then. Hope you are re overing from your problems. Will look into chiropractor.


  • Sadly I think his surgery has not helped. i was recomended the op in 2006, but declined despite a 2. cm tear. I do not regret my decision, my arm works fine. I have heard too many failure stories. i suspect you have tendonitis- inflammation of the repaired tendon. There is avery pooor blood supply to tendons so it may take along time to heal. Ice it frequently.Isuspect that when thy operated they pulled the tendon up too far toreach healthy tissue that would 'hold'. good luck

  • Thank you for your reply, I suspected something like that may have happened. His surgeon gave him a steroid and anaesethetic injection on Monday, it helped for a while, but he is now in pain again, back to Physio on Tuesday. It's just a waiting game now. The only down side is that the other shoulder is now giving him pain, he's waiting for an mri scan on that one.


  • Oh dear thats not so good. I would be wary of having more shoulder surgery given the trouble he has had on the first shoulder. good luck to you both anyhowand let me know how he gets on

  • Thanks for replying, will let you all know what happens.


  • just a further thought. He might have a form of myositosis in which his musles have become knotted and lacked. A good massage therapist who knows how to treat this condition might be able to help hm.

  • This week he's been discharged from physio, they are happy with his movement, but he's to continue with his exercises. He's back in work on light duties, gradually introducing the more manual side of his job,which has proved to be not too bad, there are still some things he can't do. Thanks for your reply, the physio did say the muscles were very tight so a visit to a massage therapist might help.


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