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.
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.
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).
Call your surgeon or nurse if you have any of the following:
Cordasco FA. Shoulder arthroscopy. In: Rockwood CA, Matsen FA, Wirth MA, Lippitt SB, Fehringer EV, Sperling JW, eds. Rockwood and Matsen's The Shoulder. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 15.
Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplasty. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.
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.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/5/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2021 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.