4 Tips For A Smooth Recovery From Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Posted on: 13 July 2015

The shoulder joint provides an incredible range of motion, which allows people to do a number of everyday activities. But when the shoulder is damaged due to arthritis, a sports accident, or other type of trauma, it can lose its ability to function as it should. Luckily, shoulder replacement surgeries, which are performed by an orthopaedic surgeon, can relieve pain and help repair the shoulder. While shoulder replacement surgery is common and typically has a good outcome, there is a recovery period. Use the following tips to help you with your recovery:

Begin Exercises in the Hospital

After surgery it is common to not want to move the area that was operated on, but one of the keys to recovery from shoulder replacement surgery is regaining range of motion as soon as possible so your muscles and shoulder joint do not get too stiff. During your hospital stay your orthopaedic surgeon will give you instructions about what exercises you should start doing to build shoulder strength and promote healing.

Take Care of Your Incision

Your surgical incision will be closed by stitches and covered with a clean dressing. You can change the dressing regularly as needed, but avoid getting the dressing or incision area wet-- baths and showers should be avoided until after you attend your follow-up appointment with your surgeon. In rare cases the incision site can become infected; immediately contact your doctor if you develop a fever or if the incision becomes red, swollen, or starts draining pus.

Begin Physical Therapy Appointments

While the initial exercises outlined to you in the hospital can help a lot, you will also need to attend sessions with a physical therapist in order to fully rehab your shoulder. Your surgeon will typically have you begin your physical therapy sessions shortly after your first follow-up appointment. It is important to attend every scheduled physical therapy session and put forth a full effort to ensure the best possible recovery.

Wear Your Sling

For the first few weeks after surgery you should keep your arm in a sling as much as possible to keep your shoulder stable. It is especially important to wear your sling when moving around or engaging in any type of light physical therapy; if you find the sling uncomfortable, it is generally okay to loosen it if you are sitting to read, watch television, or work at a computer. Your sling may be removed during physical therapy sessions, and when you are doing prescribed exercises at home.