After a shoulder replacement, there are going to be some adjustments to the way you live while you’re healing. While your doctor will go over things in detail here are a few things you can expect in general.
- Don’t Push It – Shoulder replacement is a major surgery and though you’ll most likely go home very soon after surgery that doesn’t mean your joint is finished healing. A good way to keep yourself from doing too much too soon is to prepare your home before your surgery so that you’re not tempted to over-extend yourself. Make sure you also ask for help when you need it.
- Do Exercise, but Sensibly – Part of your recovery may involve physical therapy. It may be tempting to not want to move your shoulder but exercise is actually good for the healing process as long as you follow the program your therapist lays out for you. Don’t flex the joint beyond the rehab threshold (see Don’t #1) and over time the exercises will get easier. It’ll also improve your mental health to move around. Here are some examples of the more popular types of exercises you may be asked to do, but always follow exactly what your PT advises: Shoulder Exercises
- Do Use the Sling – Following the surgery, you will probably be given a sling for your shoulder to rest in. You will need to take it off for bathing, doing physical therapy, etc, but limiting the motion of the joint otherwise will keep you from accidentally doing too much or hurting your shoulder. If your dominant arm is the one immobilized this might be an adjustment, but keep at it and it will get easier.
- Don’t forget to treat the wound – It may not be pleasant to look at but you can’t neglect the wound of your surgery itself. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to re-dress the wound and how many times a day/week to do so. Some pain and stiffness are normal, as is bruising and discoloration, but if you notice puffiness, fluid leaking from the wound or pain that gets worse instead of better call your doctor immediately as these may be signs of an infection that needs to be treated immediately.