Preparing for Shoulder Replacement
Careful planning and preparation will play an important role in the success and recovery of your shoulder surgery. The following guidelines can help you best prepare in the weeks leading up to shoulder replacement.
- Preparing Yourself for Surgery
- Prepare Your Home for Shoulder Surgery
- Get Assistive Devices
- Arrange Help from Others
- More Information
Preparing Yourself for Surgery
You want to enter your surgery with the strongest and healthiest body possible. Your surgeon will likely recommend attention to the following items in the weeks before surgery:
- Nutrition – Eat well balanced, nutritious meals. However, the time just before surgery is not the time to diet or to add any new over-the-counter herbs, supplements or medications. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of fiber and drink adequate water in the time leading up to surgery. Protein in particular will help your bones and muscles recover from surgery.
- Medications – Make a careful list of all medications you take, including prescription drugs and any over-the-counter items you might purchase at the supermarket or drug store. Include vitamins, herbs and other supplements. You will need to show this list to your physician and other caretakers before surgery. Your doctor may recommend tapering off and stopping certain medications before your surgery date, as they can impact bleeding during the operation or interact with anesthesia or other medications you will be given during and after the surgery.
- Stop smoking - Smoking impacts your blood vessels and lungs, and can slow your recovery from surgery.
- Exercise – Ask your doctor about any exercises you should do before surgery. You may be able to practice them now to help prepare for your post-surgery rehabilitation. Anticipate at least 6-8 weeks of range of motion exercises before you will be allowed active or strengthening exercises. This means NO lifting or reaching until permitted by your surgeon.
- Rest – Get adequate sleep in the period before your surgery. You will want to be as rested as possible to face the impact of a major surgery.
- Attitude – Undergoing joint replacement surgery is a very big undertaking. For awhile after surgery, you will be more disabled than you were before and will need help from others to perform basic tasks. You’ll want to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for these realities, gathering your inner strength and focusing on the ultimate outcome of better mobility. You might consider acquainting yourself with meditation techniques or use CDs or downloaded guided meditations that can ease your anxiety about surgery and focus your mind on the positive.
- Blood Donations – Major surgery almost always involves some blood loss. Talk to your doctor about the option of donating your own blood ahead of surgery, to be used if you need a transfusion. These donations must be completed well in advance of your surgery date.
- Get a Disabled Parking Permit -- You can get a temporary (6 month) disabled parking placard from the DMV to use while you recover from surgery. Be sure to get the forms, have your doctor sign them, and get the placard from DMV before your surgery.
Prepare Your Home for Shoulder Surgery
When you return home from surgery, you will be dealing with post-surgical pain, and you’ll be less mobile than before while your joint heals. Your doctor and hospital staff will give you guidelines for preparing your home. These preparations may include the following.
- Place objects you will need frequently – clothing, cooking utensils, etc – at waist level, so you can avoid reaching up for things.
- Avoid clothes that you need to pull over your head; loose-fitting clothes that open in the front will make getting dressed easier.
- Have extra pillows available for appropriate positioning or raising sitting height to aid in getting in and out of a chair.
- Remove all throw rugs, cords and other obstructions to allow a wide path through the rooms of your home. You must avoid falling or slipping while your joint is healing.
- Have grab bars installed in the shower or by the tub and consider a bath/shower seat or transfer bench.
- Replace fixed shower heads with hand-held shower heads.
Get Assistive Devices
You may need other assistive devices to help you bathe, dress yourself, pick up items, and get in and out of chairs and your bed. Your hospital should have lists of what is needed and advice on local sources of these devices. They can be purchased new, or you can explore options for finding second-hand devices on loan, or purchased inexpensively.
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Arrange Help from Others
When you first leave the hospital, you will need the help of others to perform basic activities like bathing, dressing and managing household chores. Arrange for a family member or friend to be available to stay with you when you return home.
If you live alone or have no one who can fill this role, consider going to a specialized rehabilitation facility after discharge from the hospital. Your hospital will have a list of these facilities. You may want to arrange a visit ahead of time.
Sutter Care at Home
Sutter Care at Home physical therapists work with patients to recuperate from surgery. Therapists work with the patient's physician to develop and carry out an individualized plan of care depending on specific needs including rehab after joint replacement.
Physical therapy as a home care service
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- When to have joint replacement
- Pain after joint replacement
- Choosing an orthopedic surgeon
- Checklist | Covering the cost of surgery
- Orthopedics at Sutter Health
- Northern California locations