My 72-year-old mother fell. Now she needs an operation to repair a torn rotator cuff. What can we expect after the operation?

Someone with a rotator cuff tear usually has pain and difficulty moving the arm. Daily activities are difficult and sleep at night is often interrupted by pain. After surgery, the doctor may have your mother use a sling for up to six weeks to help support the arm when she is not using it. A physical therapist will show her how to take her arm out of the sling and carefully move it frequently during the day. The physical therapist will also give her exercises to do every day to gradually help increase her movement and decrease her pain.

At the end of six weeks (often much sooner), people who have this operation are no longer using the sling and can reach overhead. By this time, your mother should also be able to sleep on that side for several hours at a time. Exercises with light weights are added between four and six weeks after the operation. Most people regain full motion of the arm and shoulder by the end of four months.