Shoulder surgery - using your shoulder; Shoulder surgery - after
You had surgery on your shoulder to repair a muscle, tendon, or cartilage tear. The surgeon may have removed damaged tissue. You will need to know how to take care of your shoulder as it heals, and how to make it stronger.
Wear the sling or immobilizer at all times, unless the surgeon says you do not have to.
If you wear a shoulder immobilizer, you can loosen it only at the wrist strap and straighten your arm at your elbow. Be careful not to move your shoulder when you do this. DO NOT take off the immobilizer all the way unless the surgeon tells you it is OK.
If you had rotator cuff surgery or other ligament or labral surgery, you need to be careful with your shoulder. Ask the surgeon what arm movements are safe to do.
You may also be told not to use your or hand on the side that had surgery. For example, DO NOT:
Your surgeon will refer you to a physical therapist to learn exercises for your shoulder.
Consider making some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself. Store everyday items you use in places you can reach easily. Keep things with you that you use a lot (such as your phone).
You will need to wear a sling when you leave the hospital. You may also need to wear a shoulder immobilizer. This keeps your shoulder from moving. How long you need to wear the sling or immobilizer depends on the type of surgery you had.
Follow your surgeon's instructions for how to take care of your shoulder at home. Use the information below as a reminder.
Call your surgeon or nurse if you have any of the following:
DeBerardino TM, Scordino L. Shoulder arthroscopy. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 45.
Wilk KE, Macrina LC, Arrigo C. Shoulder rehabilitation. In: Andrews JR, Harrelson GL, Wilk KE, eds. Physical Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012: chap 12.
Review Date: 11/27/2016
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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