A careful, well-planned rehabilitation program is critical to the success of a shoulder replacement. You usually start gentle physical therapy on the first day after the operation. You wear an arm sling during the day for the first several weeks after surgery, and you will wear the sling at night for 4 to 6 weeks. Most patients are able to perform simple activities such as eating, dressing and grooming within 2 weeks after surgery. Driving a car is not allowed for 6 weeks after surgery.
Do’s and don’ts” for returning home:
• Do follow the program of home exercises prescribed for you. You may need to do the exercises 4 to 5 times a day for a month or more.
• Do ask for assistance. Your physician may be able to recommend an agency or facility if you do not have home support.
• Do avoid placing your arm in any extreme position, such as straight out to the side or behind your body for the first 6 weeks after surgery.
• Don’t use the arm to push yourself up in bed or from a chair because this requires forceful contraction of muscles.
• Don’t overdo it. If your shoulder pain was severe before the surgery, the experience of pain-free motion may lull you into thinking that you can do more than is prescribed. Early overuse of the shoulder may result in severe limitations in motion.
• Don’t lift anything heavier than a glass of water for the first 6 weeks after surgery.
• Don’t participate in contact sports or do any repetitive heavy lifting after your shoulder replacement.
Many thousands of patients have experienced an improved quality of life after shoulder joint replacement surgery. They experience less pain, improved motion and strength, and better function.