Recovering From Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Full recovery from shoulder surgery takes time, patience and hard work. Knowing what to expect and what your recovery timeline will look like can help set you up for a successful recovery.
- After Shoulder Surgery
- Resuming Activity after Shoulder Replacement
- Long Term Recovery
- More Information
After Shoulder Surgery
Immediately after surgery, you may not be able to move the fingers or wrist on the operated arm (due to an anesthetic block). Finger and wrist function will return usually within 24 hours. You may experience swelling and bruising of the hand and arm. This is the normal result of the bruising in your shoulder, which travels down the arm.
While in the hospital, medical staff will have you perform activities to prevent blood clots from forming in your veins. There will also be prescribed exercises to help your joint heal properly, minimize scar tissue and strengthen your muscles to support the new joint. Your pain will be controlled via medications. Be sure to talk with your nurse or doctor if you feel the medications are not effective. Also be sure to take your medications in advance of each day’s physical therapy exercise. Pain relief will be essential for your active participation in the exercises.
Pain management after joint replacement.
Within a day or two, you should be able to move well enough to leave the hospital and return home. Some surgeons may even use same-day surgery centers for certain patients.
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Resuming Activity after Shoulder Replacement
Physical therapy will become very important in the months following surgery. Physical therapy improves the motion of the shoulder as it heals. Many surgeons do not start therapy for six to eight weeks depending on soft tissue repairs during the joint replacement surgery. Therapy usually begins with mild passive exercises and progress slowly to active motions. Patients who comply with physical therapy exercises tend to recover much faster. Often it will take three to six months for shoulder healing and up to a year to regain full motion and strength.
Some vigorous activities may need to be avoided altogether to prevent damage to your new joint, including:
- vigorous throwing motions
- chopping wood
- lifting or pushing heavy objects
- rough contact sports
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Long Term Recovery
Some post-surgery precautions continue even after you have achieved "full recovery" and are back to your normal activities.
You will need to be cautious about infections – for the rest of your life. You will need to alert your dentist that you have a shoulder replacement and likely take antibiotics before any major dental or other invasive procedures. This will help prevent infection from entering the body and settling in your artificial joint.
Your implants may also be detected in airport metal detectors. You may be given a card to carry in your wallet that describes the implants you received. You may need this card when passing through airport security.
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- When to have joint replacement
- Pain after joint repalcement
- Choosing an orthopedic surgeon
- Covering the cost of surgery
- Orthopedics at Sutter Health
- Northern California locations