Can You Drive After a Rotator Cuff Repair?

elderly woman with instable shoulder

After receiving rotator cuff repair surgery, one of the first questions patients ask is, “When can I drive again?” The answer can be complicated. You might get a different answer from every surgeon because there are no standard qualifications to determine when someone is ready to drive after surgery. However, there are basic guidelines you can follow to get an estimate of when you’ll be on the road again.

When You Should Not Drive After Shoulder Surgery

You must understand under which circumstances you should not drive. The biggest indicators that you should hold off on driving after shoulder surgery are:

  • If you’re wearing a sling: A sling means that you won’t be able to fully use both of your hands to steer, shift gears and avoid collisions. This limitation can drastically impair your reaction time, making you a danger both to yourself and other cars on the road.
  • If you’re taking pain medication: Many pain medications can impair your motor functions. This impairment is especially dangerous if you’re on strong opiate prescriptions. Wait until your mind is completely clear before getting behind the wheel again.

Other reasons you might want to hold off on driving for a while include:

  • Experiencing pain: Pain can distract you from what’s going on in front of you. Try to avoid driving until you aren’t in so much discomfort.
  • Unfavorable road conditions: Taking your car out for a drive when it’s raining or snowing is dangerous in the best of times. Do yourself a favor and hold off on testing your skills in inclement weather after surgery.
  • A long commute: Ease yourself back into driving. Start with short distances that will help your arm rebuild its stamina.

Getting Back in the Driver’s Seat

Before you start driving after your rotator cuff surgery, you should consult your doctor and ensure your recovery is going as planned. Most people can remove their slings about six to 12 weeks after their operation. Once your sling is removed and you’ve discontinued any pain medications, your doctor is likely to agree it’s time for you to start driving again!

Contact OrthoBethesda Now

If you are struggling with a rotator cuff injury or getting back on your feet after a rotator cuff repair, the physicians at OrthoBethesda are ready to help! Contact us online or give us a call at 301-530-1010 to get started. If you’re ready to make an appointment, book one with of our surgeons today.

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