Post-Operative Instructions

Rotator Cuff Repair

(You will receive your customized post-op instructions after your surgery.)


    Lying flat in bed will be uncomfortable for several days. Sleeping with your back elevated on several pillows or in a recliner can be helpful. Apply ice to the shoulder intermittently for the first 24-48 hours. Unless otherwise indicated, schedule Physical Therapy to start 3-5 days after surgery.


    Arthroscopic shoulder surgery requires a sling for protection post-operatively. Keep the sling in place until your surgeon sees you in the office. You can remove the sling to allow elbow, wrist, and hand motion 3 times a day. The therapist will give you other exercises as well.


    • Motrin 800 mg every 8 hours as needed for pain
    • Vicodin or Percocet as needed for severe pain

    To minimize gastric upset from narcotics or anti-inflammatory medicine, eat adequate amounts of food. Increase fluid and fiber intake to ease constipation from pain medicine. Stool softeners (Colace or Pericolace) can also be useful for constipation.


    Slight bleeding through the dressing is common. Excessive bleeding should be reported to your surgeon. Dressings must be kept dry. Modify your bathing appropriately to avoid getting the dressing wet. 48 hours postoperatively, remove the dressings, shower, then cover incisions with Band Aids. Swimming and hot tubs are not allowed until the wound is completely healed. Use rubbing alcohol to remove the prep solution from the skin.


    Your surgeon should be contacted by calling 703-810-5210, 24 hours a day for any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever greater than 101.5 degrees F.
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.-CALL 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.
    • Numbness, loss of good color or coolness in the arm.
    • Severe pain unresponsive to narcotic medication.
    • Excessive bleeding or vomiting.

    • Your post-operative follow-up appointment is scheduled on __________________________________.
    • If you need to verify or change your post-op appointment, please call 703-277-BONE (2663).