Life after total shoulder-replacement surgery

If you or someone you love has done serious damage to his or her shoulder, a total shoulder replacement may be necessary.

A total shoulder replacement is major surgery that can keep you or your loved one in the hospital for several days, in addition to requiring weeks or months of physical therapy to fully recover.

If you’re preparing for shoulder-replacement surgery, it helps to know what to expect.

After surgery

When you have your surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for two to five days to recover. The time will depend on how well you progress and whether you experience any complications from the surgery.

During this time, you will experience swelling and pain in your shoulder joint. Your physician will prescribe pain medication to help make you comfortable and ice to reduce the swelling. Your arm will be in a brace after surgery to keep you from moving. However, you will likely begin physical therapy during your hospital stay.

Coming home

Post-surgery, you will have very limited movement in your arm.

As you prepared for surgery, you may have arranged to have a family member or close friend help afterward if you live alone or if your spouse is unable to help you.

If not, it may be best to book a short stay at a rehabilitation center until you can do more things on your own.

In fact, it may be several weeks before you can lift much of anything. Consider how you might rearrange items in your home to make life easier as you recover. For example, think about your daily routine and set items on your bathroom sink so they are easily reachable, rather than tucked away in drawers.

Consider all the activities that require two hands and, if someone isn’t available to help, develop an alternative or find a way you can accomplish the task single-handed.

Physical therapy

Generally, you will continue to have physical therapy throughout your recovery. In addition to therapy sessions with a professional, you’ll likely be assigned exercises to do at home between sessions.

As you do these, remember not to push yourself too hard. Recognize that recovery takes time and rushing the process could result in a subsequent injury.

Physical therapy will play a vital role in recovery by limiting pain and improving the function of your new joint. Click here to read more about what your physical therapist will most likely teach you!

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