Rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair: a survey of current UK practice

Chris Littlewood*, Marcus Bateman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rotator cuff disorders, including rotator cuff tears, are common and can be treated conservatively or surgically. Data suggest that the incidence of surgery to repair the rotator cuff is rising. Despite this rise, the most effective approach to postoperative rehabilitation, a critical component of the recovery process, is not well developed. The present study aimed to describe current practice in the UK in relation to rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair. Methods: An electronic survey was developed and disseminated to UK based physiotherapists and surgeons involved with rotator cuff repair. Results: One hundred valid responses were received. Although there is a degree of variation, current practice for the majority of respondents consists of sling immobilization for 4 weeks to 6 weeks. During this time, passive movement would be commenced before active movement is introduced towards the end of this phase. Resisted exercise begins 7 weeks to 12 weeks postoperatively, alongside return to light work. A progressive resumption of function, including manual work and sport, is advised from approximately 13 weeks. Conclusions: In the context of the current literature, it might be suggested that the current approach to rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair for the majority of respondents is somewhat cautious and has not progressed for over a decade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalShoulder and Elbow
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • physiotherapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • rotator cuff
  • surgery
  • survey


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