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Recovering From Shoulder Surgery Part 1

Dr, Donna Restivo

Posted on September 07 2018

Recovering from a recent surgery is never an easy feat but knowing how to tackle the recovery process will make it go by a whole lot easier. Rotator cuff and labral repair surgery usually requires being in a sling for three to six weeks. In most cases, patients will be able to go back to moving actively at six weeks post-surgery and patients who plan ahead and make a few changes at home will have an easier time recovering. Like most things in life…preparation is key. It’s in your best interest to obtain a few items to ensure you are comfortable, and practicing personal hygiene with the non-affected arm is a must to move your recovery along with ease. Your best bet is to focus on the following three areas:

Leanna shoulder black-2-450x450Exercise. As soon as your doctor approves movement in the affected arm, you will want to start meeting with a physical therapist regularly, until your strength is built up enough to tackle exercise on your own. If you’re starting to feel antsy in your sling for those first six weeks, you can work on making a fist and releasing it several times per hour. This will build up that strength in no time. Once you learn how to remove your sling, you can work on bending and straightening your elbow for upping your chances of mobility sooner rather than later 

Personal hygiene and dressing. We take our ease of movement for granted when we’ve always had the luxury of using both arms. But, following your surgery, you will realize the many challenges associated with only being able to use one arm.

Chances are, you’ve never had issues tying your shoes, but imagine tying them with one hand instead of two. Be prepared and purchase a pair of shoes with Velcro closures for the time being. 

Even the little side-to-side movement involved in brushing your teeth can become a problem when you have limited arm use. You may want to invest in an electric toothbrush, and let it do the work for you. 

Clothing that is hung up in closets or in dressers that are high, will need to be taken down and placed in an area that is within reach. You might need to transfer you popular clothing items to a bin outside your closet for the weeks following surgery. 

You may have never thought that buttoning and zipping up a pair of pants was all that challenging, but it becomes difficult when you have limited mobility. Our advice to you is to have elastic waist pants and loose fitting shirts, jackets or sweaters available to allow dressing with one arm a lot easier.


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