Shoulder Surgery- Tips for Recovery

Rotator cuff and labral repair surgery typically require being in a sling for three to six weeks. Usually, after six weeks, most people will be able to resume active movement. Recovery from shoulder surgery will be easier and more comfortable for patients who plan ahead, make a few temporary changes at home, obtain a few comfort items, and practice personal hygiene and dressing with the non-affected arm. Ask your surgeon for additional information about driving and computer use.

  • Place commonly used kitchen, bathroom, and dressing items at counter level to avoid overhead reaching
  • Add a grab bar in the shower to decrease risk of falling
  • Prepare and freeze meals in advance so they can be reheated easily
Dressing and personal hygiene
  • Discover SnapWear™ Post Surgery Clothing to ease dressing during your recovery.
  • Tying shoes with one hand is difficult; choose slip-ons or shoes with elastic shoelaces or Velcro closures
  • An electric toothbrush may be easier to manage if the surgery was on your dominant arm
  • Take clothing and other necessary items out of hard to reach places.
  • Have pull up elastic waist pants and loose fitting shirts, jackets, or sweaters on hand to make dressing with one arm easier
  • For women, front closure bras may be easier to manage with one hand
  • Comfort care
  • Get a variety of extra pillows for the car and bed. 
  • Use bags of frozen vegetables as ice packs; they are larger and conform to the shoulder area. Apply after surgery and therapy sessions to decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Since you are sleeping with a sling, a recliner chair may be a good alternative to the bed.
  • Try these other sleep positions:
  • Begin therapy, allowing the therapist passively move the arm, as soon as recommended after surgery
  • While in the sling, make a fist and release it several times per hour.
  • Follow instructions for removing the sling, bending and straightening the elbow, and doing pendulum movements.



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