What To Expect After Shoulder Surgery

Recovery

​Once you have shoulder surgery you’re most likely going to be recovering at home. You will probably feel quite tired initially and may need to rest more often. Your shoulder may be a bit swollen and you may have some discoloration near the surgery site. This discomfort should go away after a few days and you can always ask your doctor for medication to relieve any discomfort.
Most of the major discomfort should go away in around 12 to 24 hours. For full healing to take place this will probably take around six weeks or a bit longer. You will probably have to reduce some of your activity as you recover from surgery. Your doctor may also put you in a rehabilitation program to aid your recovery.
If you work at a desk job, depending on the type of surgery you may be able return to work within a few days. If you have a job that requires physical labor you may have to delay back to work until your arm is fully healed.

​Caring for Yourself at Home

Clothing

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Rest

Probably the best thing you can do while at home is to get plenty of rest. You may want to sit or even sleep in a reclining chair as this will take a lot of the pressure and pain off of your shoulder.

Activity

You’ll want to get a little bit of exercise by simply walking around your home. For the first couple of weeks,  avoid trying to lift anything heavy because your shoulder needs time to heal. Your arm may be in a sling for several days or weeks depending upon the type of surgery. Do not use your arm for repeated movements such as vacuuming, painting or using a computer.

Diet

Once you get home you can probably resume your normal diet. You may be at risk for a bit of an upset stomach due to medications so in this case, you can eat toast, broiled chicken, yogurt, and plain rice. You should also drink plenty of water to avoid constipation which can be a problem with medications. If you have severe constipation you can always take a laxative or talk to your doctor. It is normal for bowel movements to sometimes not be normal after surgery.

Medications

You will probably receive several medications from your doctor. As you recover you can also use over-the-counter medications to reduce pain, swelling, and normal discomfort that you feel with healing.  Make sure you follow all of the instructions with your medications and never go beyond prescribed doses. You should only take medication when you need it for pain or as necessary depending upon your doctor’s instructions.

Care of Surgery Site

The incision area will require some care. It needs to be kept dry and clean so it can heal. Your doctor may remove the dressing within a couple of days. Once the incision is open to air it needs to be kept dry and clean. You can always place a plastic bag over the incision when you want to wash or have a shower. Make sure to follow your doctors instructions!

Physical Therapy and Exercise

Another important aspect of healing is likely going to be some physical therapy and exercise. You’ll be doing exercises probably provided by your doctor for some time including rehabilitation sessions to exercise the shoulder and the arm; being regular is key. After the exercise sessions, you may feel some pain and discomfort so you should ask your physical therapist or doctor about medication or using an ice pack to relieve the pain.

When to Get Help

If you experience any severe pain or your shoulder doesn’t seem to be healing the way you want, make sure you speak to your doctor. If you have any severe issue call 911 right away so that they can get you to the hospital to diagnose the issue.
Make sure you keep track of all of your medications so you can let medical professionals know about what you’re taking in case you may have a reaction to the medication.
Issues can include pain that isn’t normal, breathing problems, coughing up blood,  nausea, swelling that doesn’t go away, loose stitches, bleeding, fever and other issues or pain out of the ordinary should be addressed as soon as possible.

Summary

Being home after surgery will likely feel a bit different and may be slightly inconvenient.  You may have to go through a little bit of pain but you should recover soon and be back to 100%.

 

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