How to prepare for rotator cuff surgery

The prospect of surgery can be anxiety-inducing, but knowing what to expect can help. Read this helpful article for some suggestions on what to do before you have rotator cuff surgery.
To Do List for how to prepare for surgery blog


Surgery of any kind can be daunting, and if you’re having rotator cuff surgery you may have already endured weeks of pain. However, following the instructions of the staff at the Austin Shoulder Institute before your surgery should help you recover quickly.

Here are a few tips that can help reduce anxiety and prepare you for surgery.

Understand what will happen during the surgery

Rotator cuff surgery is usually shoulder arthroscopy, which is surgery performed with a small camera called an arthroscope, rather than open surgery. With arthroscopy, you’ll heal faster and have less chance of infection.

The exact procedure your surgeon performs depends on your particular issues. Some of the reasons you may need shoulder arthroscopy include:

  • shoulder instability due to torn or stretched ligaments
  • ligament tears
  • shoulder impingement
  • frozen shoulder
  • arthritis
  • torn or damaged biceps tendon


Tell your surgeon about all prescribed or over-the-counter medicines you take, as well as whether or not you consume alcohol, take supplements of any kind, or use tobacco products. Your surgeon may want you to stop taking some of your medications two weeks prior to your surgery.

It’s important for your surgeon to be aware of any chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. You may need clearance from your regular physician if you have a chronic condition. You should also disclose any recent infections, colds, influenza, or other illnesses to your surgical team ahead of time.

Meet with your physical therapist, if possible

If your surgeon suggests it, consider meeting with your physical therapist prior to surgery. It’s possible that you’ll need physical therapy following your surgery. Meeting with your therapist in advance to ask questions and find out what to expect can help lower anxiety.

Consider arranging for help following surgery

You may want to contact friends or family to arrange for help at home following surgery. Knowing that you won’t have to worry about cooking or doing the dishes or other daily tasks with one arm can give you peace of mind.

If you don’t have friends or family nearby, you may want to consider contacting an agency that specializes in helping with day-to-day tasks, such as running errands. Another option is stocking up on freezer meals that can be easily prepared.

Simply knowing that you’ll need time to recover can help you plan ahead of time.

Get plenty of rest and eat well

Ideally, you should be at your best both physically and mentally before surgery — the stronger you are, the easier your healing process is likely to be. Eat nutritious foods in the days leading up to surgery, and get adequate rest.

Follow the “nothing by mouth” instructions

Follow all instructions regarding food and fluid intake on the day before surgery. You may be asked to take nothing by mouth before your surgery, which means you’ll need to stop eating and drinking at midnight the night before, especially if your surgeon plans to use general anesthesia.

Arrive on time wearing comfortable clothing

Follow the instructions the staff at Austin Shoulder Institute provides regarding when to arrive on the day of your surgery. Being late creates extra stress for you and for the staff.

Dress comfortably, and remember that you’ll most likely be going home following the procedure. You’ll want clothes that are easy to put on and take off when you cannot raise one arm, such as a loose-fitting shirt that buttons or zips up the front. Slip-on shoes and pants or shorts with an elastic waistband are good options.


Sign up to get notified of our latest blog posts each month:

* Personal data will be encrypted

You Might Also Enjoy…

Doctors examining xray for shoulder fractures blog
How Do Shoulder Fractures Typically Occur?
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in your body. It includes the upper arm bone (humerus), the scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collar bone.) A fracture of the shoulder refers to a broken bone in any of these three areas.