Rotator cuff surgery can make many daily activities much more difficult during the post-operation period. The goal of rotator cuff surgery recovery is to return to all your normal activities as soon as possible. Driving is a priority as you want to have your mobility and autonomy back. Here are some ways to tell if you’re ready to drive if you’re recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

Level of Pain

It’s important to note that during rotator cuff surgery recovery, you will likely be in a sling from 2 to 6 weeks. Until you’re out of your sling, it is not recommended to drive.  Reaction times with one arm, especially non-dominant, are reduced after surgery.

Once the sling is off, you need to evaluate your pain level. If your shoulder is in constant pain, you won’t be able to focus on your driving, and the repetitive motion of steering may make the pain worse. Also, if you have been prescribed and are taking pain medication, it is unsafe to drive.

Driving Considerations

Beyond the pain you may be experiencing during rotator cuff surgery recovery, you must also consider some other factors. How long is the trip? You may be ready for a short drive, but unable to go a long distance. What are the driving conditions like? If the roads are wet or snowy, your reaction time may be slower than normal.  Can you safely get in and out of the vehicle without using the operative extremity?  Can you shift the gears and apply seatbelt? Please refrain from driving if you are still taking pain medication or have your arm in a sling.

Insurance Coverage

Finally, some insurance companies pause coverage until a certain amount of time has passed after surgery. Check with your agent.

During rotator cuff surgery recovery, the last thing you want to do is rush to get behind a wheel and make your pain worse or find you’re unable to drive effectively. Take your time and consider all these factors first.