A few weekends ago, our annual meeting of the Arthroscopy Association of North America took place in San Francisco. This is the premier society for arthroscopic surgery (I was the first woman admitted to the Association many years ago). Approximately 2000 surgeons came and there are always new things to learn. One of the common themes running through the weekend was that it takes longer for patients’ real function to improve than we tell them. We as surgeons tell our patients that after rotator cuff repair surgery, they are going to get better in four months or so. Frankly it is because our patients would freak out if they hear that it might be up to a year. In fact, it does take much longer for the shoulder to completely get back to as close to 100% as possible, because the tissues take a long time to mature, the muscles to strengthen and for the whole shoulder to work as a unit again. So, if you have had rotator cuff surgery, be patient, continue to do exercises, do not be discouraged, and keep in mind that your symptoms can get better up to at least a year if you keep working on your exercises.
-Lesley J. Anderson, MD