Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How long is the recovery for shoulder surgery?"

ZocdocAnswersHow long is the recovery for shoulder surgery?


Rotator cuff


The rotator cuff refers to a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and are responsible for moving and lifting the arm. When the rotator cuff is damaged, this usually means that there is a tear, either complete or partial, in one or more of these tendons. In the more severe cases, this does often require surgery. Unfortunately, tendons have very little blood supply, which means that they heal very slowly. Therefore, the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery is usually quite long. For example, initially after the surgery you will have to keep the arm still in a sling and will not even be allowed to move the arm at all. After several weeks in this sling, you will start working typically with a physical therapy who will begging to perform stretching exercises on the arm - at this stage, you will still not be allowed to move the arm on your own. Somewhere after 6 weeks after surgery, you will begin to perform small exercises on your own with the supervision of a physical therapist, gradually building up over time. The entire process can take more than 1 year, however! Please talk to your orthopedic surgeon about this issue.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.