USC – Preparing for Rotator Cuff Surgery and Early Post-Surgical Physical Therapy

The prehab program from MOTI Physiotherapy, Inc (“MOTI”) is only designed to be used in conjunction with a prescribed personalized plan of care designed by your Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)/Occupational Therapy Doctor (OTD) and/or your Medical Doctor (MD). If you have an existing injury or existing pain or discomfort, consult with a physician or physical therapist in person to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan before participating in MOTI’s prehab program. This program is not designed to be used on its own without proper guidance from your DPT/OTD and/or MD. Exercise involves inherent risk of injury, and you are participating in MOTI’s prehab program at your own risk. In consideration for participating in MOTI’s prehab program, you acknowledge the foregoing, and knowingly, voluntarily and expressly agree to waive any claim for damages or injury against MOTI, and release MOTI and its agents from any liability for injuries or damages sustained as a result of the use or misuse of the program. Do not participate in MOTI’s prehab program unless you understand and agree to the foregoing completely.

In this video series, Dr. Megan O’Linn, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS and Dr. Eddie Yacyncyh, PT, DPT, OCS will be reviewing key post operative steps for using your shoulder sling, management of pain, early post operative exercises and how to prepare for your Physical Therapy initial evaluation and plan of care.

Rotator cuff tears have a prevalence of 11 to 13% in people in their 5th decade of life with symptoms including pain and weakness with arm movements that effect their activities of daily living, occupation, and recreational participation. Surgical intervention is recommended for partial to full thickness tears to maintain tissue quality, prevent muscle atrophy and maintain a good healing environment. (1)

Physical Therapy typically initiates 1 to 2 weeks post operatively depending on each surgeon’s preference and post operative protocol. If you know when you are having surgery and when your Surgeon recommends starting Physical Therapy it is strongly advised to schedule your Physical Therapy evaluation before your surgery to not delay your plan of care. Post operative physical therapy will last between 3-6 months and up to a year depending on your goals. Primary strength and range of motion gains will be made withing the first 6 months with return to sport preparation happening over the course of 6 months to year. Twice a week Physical Therapy visits is typical but frequency will be determined by your Doctor of Physical Therapy at your initial visit.

After surgery you will be placed in a shoulder immobilizer given to you preoperatively by your Surgeon it is recommended that you always wear this brace, even when sleeping, for the first 2 weeks to maintain tendon to bone healing. If your Surgeon clears you to modify your shoulder immobilizer use after 2 weeks you may do so following their guidance and over sight from your Physical Therapist. In the below two videos Dr. Eddie Yacynych will take you through how to properly take on and off your shoulder immobilizer and ice machine (if applicable) independently. He will also review putting your shirt on and off after surgery. (1)

In this next video Dr. Megan O’Linn will go over the impact pain can have on post operative range of motion and stiffness and how to utilize breathing to manage your pain and improve mindset with healing and exercises. Previous studies have shown that anxiety and depression are prevalent in 25% of patients with rotator cuff tear, frame of mind regarding your surgery will impact your pain and functional tolerance with post operative physical therapy range of motion and strength exercises. Utilizing your breathing can help lead to a restful state that will ease pain and improve tolerance with exercise. (2)

In the next series of videos Dr. Eddie Yacynych and Dr. Megan O’Linn will walk you through the first two weeks of exercises of your post operative protocol provided by your Surgeon. It is important to maintain daily compliance with your exercises to minimize the risk of post operative stiffness which will delay your post operative range of motion and strength progress and milestones once you initiate Physical Therapy.

We look forward to seeing you for your post operative evaluation at MOTI Physiotherapy. To set up your Physical Therapy evaluation, please contact MOTI Physiotherapy Los Feliz (323) 912-9166 or MOTI Physiotherapy Highland Park (323) 503-1414. If you have questions regarding your Rotator Cuff Surgery and Physical Therapy plan of care please feel comfortable in contacting our Clinic Directors, Dr. Megan O’Linn, [email protected] or Dr. Ann DeGrey, [email protected] and they can help answer your questions!


  1. Hougs Kjaer, B. Magnusson, P. Henriksen, M. et al. Effects of 12 Weeks of Progressive Early Active Exercise Therapy After Surgical Rotator Cuff Repair. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2021; 49(2): 321-331. 
  2. Hyun Par, J. Rhee, SM. Kim, SH. Oh, JH. Effects of Anxiety and Depression Measured via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale on Early Pain and Range of Motion After Rotator Cuff Repair. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2021; 49(2) 314-320

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