About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

8 comments on “Returning to work after rotator cuff surgery

  • Dr Luks…. Please help !!!!
    About 10 weeks ago I took a fall at work, landing on my elbow and in turn damaging my shoulder. I think it’s a rotator cuff injury. Day to day light duties can be fine but I work in the construction industry. Sleeping at night can be very uncomfortable too. I’m self employed so a lengthy work absence is not an option. Do you have any advice how I can continue at work and possibly rehabilitate the injury at the same time ?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Steve… In order to answer that question, one needs to know the diagnosis. You should consider a good exam by a shoulder specialist to see what is going on and thus the best way to rehabilitate your shoulder.

  • Hello Dr Luks, I injured my shoulder at work. I had a complete tear of my rotator cuff and a bicep tear. I had both surgically repaired exactly 6 weeks ago. I am in physical therapy two times per week. I am still experiencing some pain and significant stiffness in my surgically repaired shoulder. My current range of motion is at about 85%. I work in a automotive assembly factory, my surgeon is sending me back to work, with restrictions of course. I am just concerned that this may be to soon to return to a 10 hour shift even with restrictions. Dr. Luks, what is your opinion?

    • Hi Steve… Sorry, but I can not provide treatment advice in this format. 6 weeks does seem a bit early. Have you spoken with your own doc about this?

  • Going through the same thing but this is my second rotator surgery after the first one failed last year. I’m still not at work yet and it’s been almost 6 months from my last surgery. I do heavy lifting up to 70 lbs . Also a lot of overhead repetitive lifting. I’m worried that I will end up re injuring my shoulder. Also my hours are 10 to 12 hours a day! I still have quite a bit of pain with lifting! Am I ever going to be normal again after 2 big surgeries a year apart from each other?

    • I don’t know the answer to that… but I do wish you the best. Recovery from rotator cuff surgery can take more than a year. Unfortunately, reinjury is pretty common if the tear was large and degenerative.

  • Dr. Luks. My son followed in my footsteps and is a fire captain/medic. He tore his rotator cuff during a rescue. His MRI shows a “small tear” and is waiting his consultation and surgery date. He’s been told he will most likely be off the job for at least a year after surgery. How soon after surgery does rehab/PT begin to take place and begin? How long after surgery does he have to wear a sling? Sounds like he’s been told pretty much what you’ve stated, but has not heard yet on the items I ask here so just curious. He loves the job so he’ll be very diligent in following post surgical instructions as to not jeopardize or lengthen his return to work. He was using the jaws of life (very heavy) on a very complicated cut and rescue ar a traffic in a traffic accident when the injury occurred. We all know how Comp goes (very slowly!) and they had him in PT for quite a spell before even ordering the MRI which indeed diagnosed the tear. I’m hoping that PT didn’t make the tear worse. Holding good thoughts. Thanks for any insight on my questions above!

    • HI Tony…
      Our best wishes to your son. And thank him for his service!
      We usually start PT for small tears fairly soon after surgery. Some surgeons will start it at two weeks, some might wait until 4 weeks after surgery. The research shows that most repairs tolerate early passive motion very well. The sling is controversial too. We use it in many people to protect them from using their arm too much. For small tears the amount of time in a sling will vary from 2-6 weeks depending on the surgeon.

      Again… best of luck!

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