“No lifting, pulling, pushing, reaching with the surgical arm.” You will hear Dr. Deutsch and his staff repeat this mantra after surgery. But what does this really mean? And why is it so important?
Many patients ask “How can raising my arm just a few inches away from body affect my rotator cuff repair? Can’t I just lift my arm a little bit? What if I just lift my arm but stay below shoulder level?” These are excellent questions. What it all boils down to is this: sutures (surgical threads):
Dr. Deutsch uses specially designed suture-anchors to stabilize the rotator cuff tendon against the humerus bone. This allows your body to heal the tendon back to the bone.
This restores the connection between the tendon and the bone. The healing process is a biologic process that takes time – usually between 6 months to 1 year for the connection to fully mature back to its normal state. Depending on your age, tear size, medical history, smoking history, and several other factors, the rotator cuff tear heals at a rate of about 10% per month.
When you raise your shoulder away from the side of your body – even 1 inch – you are using your rotator cuff tendon. This is the very same tendon that is repaired during surgery. During the first 6-8 weeks following surgery, the tendon is not even close to being healed. In fact, the only thing securing the torn tendon against the bone during this time frame are the sutures (surgical threads). Raising the arm away from the body results in high stresses placed on these sutures.
Essentially, you're depending on these sutures to raise your arm. There is high risk that you will re-tear the tendon from the bone when you actively raise your arm away from your body.
The good news is that these sutures ARE designed to tolerate passive motion of the surgical arm during the first 6 weeks following surgery. Most importantly, Dr. Deutsch’s 20 years of clinical experience proves that his surgical technique and post-op rehabilitation protocol works!
Dr. Deutsch has presented and published multiple research studies demonstrating excellent clinical outcome for patients following his surgical repair and postop rehab protocol.
Take home message: Follow Dr. Deutsch’s post-op instructions. Adhere to all the restrictions including: “No lifting, pulling, pushing, reaching with the surgical arm” and you will do GREAT!