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Shoulder Surgery? Post-Op Recovery Information

Rehabilitation Timeline from a Bay Area Shoulder Doctor

While many shoulder injuries can be addressed without surgery, major trauma like a tear in the rotator cuff will require a surgical procedure. Shoulders that undergo surgery usually need up to six months for complete recovery. Most shoulder procedures are not invasive and can be properly executed with the use of an arthroscope. The lengthy recovery period is not caused by the surgery performed by the shoulder doctor, but is based upon the human body’s ability to heal. It takes significant time for the tendon to recover and re-attach to the bone properly. Healing is a gradual process that varies by case, but there are a few things to be aware of during the post-op period to support the recovery process.

Up to 6 Weeks After Surgery
Immediately following surgery it is important to keep the shoulder as still as possible. You will probably experience swelling and pain, so frequently apply cold ice packs to help. After surgery, your arm will be resting in a swing to keep pressure off the tendon. During this time your doctor may advise you to begin physical therapy where you will perform exercises that involve passive movements of the joint. You should not contract your muscles at this stage, especially the bicep. A rotator cuff specialist or physical therapist will teach you how to move your arm without contracting the muscles around the joint. Gentle movement is encouraged to decrease the formation of scar tissue, which would debilitate movement of the joint.

6 to 12 Weeks
During this period you can perform specific and limited arm movements. You should not push or lift heavy objects, exert strain on your joints, or support your body weight with the injured arm. Doing so could force the sutures that connect the tendon to the bone to dislocate.

13 to 60 Weeks
At this time you will begin strengthening your arm, which will assist in full recovery. Strength exercises will be specific as it is still not advisable to exert heavy pressure on the joint. Most exercises will be light but effective.

Sleeping may become difficult, especially during the first few weeks as you attempt to adjust to the injured shoulder. Lying on the back and propping the arm up with pillows may help you adjust.

Daily Activities
Normal activities like cooking, cleaning, driving, and dressing could be very difficult. Returning to work could also be challenging, depending on the nature of your job. Consult your shoulder specialist and physical therapist so they can guide you through the best ways to proceed.

San Francisco Shoulder Dislocation Specialist Values Your Recovery

For more information about shoulder recovery, or if you are experiencing orthopedic concerns, speak with an orthopedic surgeon at IASM today! Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht has developed specific rehab protocols for different types of surgeries, which are all on our website. You can book your appointment online, or call our office at 415-923-0944.

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