When rotator cuff surgery is needed, the surgeon has to take into consideration whether or not fatty infiltration has occurred. Ideally, the surgeon can perform the surgery at an early enough stage—before fatty infiltration becomes an issue.

What is fatty infiltration? Sometimes, when the rotator cuff tendons have significantly pulled away from the bone where they have been attached, fat infiltrates the muscular portions, resulting in weakened muscles. Although the surgeon will take this into account when performing a repair, weakness can remain even after the rotator cuff has been repaired.

Fortunately, with successful surgery, the process of fatty infiltration does not generally progress any further. While the previous changes are irreversible, the addition of physical therapy can be critical to rebuild strength in the muscles. Since there is also no clear understanding of how fatty infiltration prior to surgery may affect the healing and surgical outcomes, it is even more important to start physical therapy soon after surgery.

We can help in a number of ways that go beyond just improving movement after you have experienced fatty infiltration. Your individualized physical therapy program can help to

  • relieve pain and swelling
  • teach techniques you can perform at home
  • prevent pain and injury recurrence
  • develop a progressive strength-training routine

Through personal attention and collaboration, we can provide you with numerous exercises after rotator cuff surgery. Together, we can devise a long-term plan to provide positive postsurgical results. When physical therapy is included after fatty infiltration and rotator cuff repair, long-term outcomes are more likely to be optimistic.