Rotator Cuff Surgery on the right shoulder

October 9, 2019, 7:39 AM · I am a violinist. I just had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder and I am 12 weeks after surgery. I would like to know how long I should wait before playing again. I am getting mixed messages from my surgeon and physical therapist. My surgeon says it is ok to start playing again but in small increments. My physical therapist says not to play yet. She says I should wait until I am stronger. I would appreciate any comments from other musicians who have had this surgery.

Replies (5)

October 9, 2019, 10:37 AM · In Dec 2008 I had right shoulder surgery; SLAP repair, torn rotator, pinched nerve, bone spurs. My therapist said 10 to 12 weeks before playing. I was supposed to do the exercises three times a day and saw the therapist twice a week. I did my exercises five times a day and I played my violin in church after 7 1/2 weeks; mind you, I could not play on the G string but the following week I played all four strings.
October 9, 2019, 10:39 AM · I know you must be itching to get back to it, but there is no way anyone here, even if, say, they were a surgeon or PT, would be qualified to give you a good answer, since no one here has examined you, and most here are not medical professionals. It sounds like you have a conservative option from your PT and a less conservative one from your surgeon. If you started to play in small increments, you might like to at least consult again with the surgeon to find out how to proceed. I would just follow the PT's advice if I was regularly going to the PT.
October 9, 2019, 10:42 AM · I think I'd ask the surgeon what factors led to that particular individualized recommendation -- your age, particulars of the surgery or of your anatomy, your general state of health, etc., or if the time period was just the standard average thing that anyone can look up. Likewise for your PT -- how you compare to others who have had this surgery? Your improvement in range of motion, your response to therapy so far, etc. -- how do these compare to the averages?
October 9, 2019, 3:11 PM · My former profession was Nursing. That said, the PT is the God/Godess and you should listen to them.
Edited: October 9, 2019, 3:20 PM · I had rotator cuff surgery on my right (bow) arm. Because I waited for over 10 years between the injury and corrective surgery the repair was quite complicated. I viewed it that until I could play without any pain or discomfort that continued playing would lead to either further damage or possible reliance on OTC or stronger pain medications which could bring on worse issues.

Once you feel pain when you play then my advice is to immediately stop - the same advice usually given for folks who are recovering from tendinitis Issues.

I was not 100% pain free for over a year but I could play well before that. It was overhead work that I couldn’t do for well over a year after my surgery. Paul gave good advice - your PT works with you and can observe your comfort level.


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