Utilization of arthroscopic surgical techniques for the shoulder followed on the heels of the same application for the knee joint. Arthroscopic procedures tend to produce less post-operative pain due to decreased soft tissue involvement/trauma required to gain access to the shoulder joint, one of the many reasons that this form of surgical intervention is so highly utilized today.
There is an unfortunate down side with this technical advantage, however. Specifically, the patient often feels too good too soon following the procedure. Additionally, the inherent challenges of human nature to push the envelope with respect to home exercise and the return to daily activities are a recipe for additional pain and trauma to repaired tissues.
3 Keys to Success
Patience, diligence and following directions (the protocol) are the keys to success. This rings true for the many “type A” personalities out there who hope to cheat the process. Even though the arthroscopic surgical process seems simplistic, (in conjunction with the fact that they send you home within hours of the procedure) the healing constraints of the tissue are the same.
The tendons that are repaired in a rotator cuff tear require 8-12 weeks to fully heal depending on severity and the medical study cited. With arthroscopic intervention, the shoulder may reach a pain free status at rest or with light movement in as little as 3-4 weeks post-surgery. With the removal of the sling 4-6 weeks post-operatively and the list of chores around the house piling up, the patient enters a period where there is commonly a mild injury to the joint. These classically resolve, though many studies note the high rate of re-tearing after surgical intervention and this may be a factor noting the frailty of the tendon at this juncture.