5 Tips to a Better Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Knee replacement surgery

Orthopedic problems are very common throughout the United States. It has been estimated that at least one in seven people suffer from some orthopedic issue that send them to an orthopedic doctor. One common problem is a shoulder injury. Thousands of people have some sort of shoulder surgery every year. The good news is that these can greatly improve their quality of life. Recovering from any operation can take time and work. Here are some things you can do to have a better recovery from your shoulder surgery.

  1. Get your body ready before surgery. If you have been in an accident or suffered some other trauma, this may not be possible. If you have an injury or problem that has gotten worse over time, going to physical therapy before you have your shoulder surgery can make a huge difference in how you recover. When you have your muscles in the best shape possible, you can be surprised by how much easier it will be to bounce back after your trip to the orthopedic surgery center.
  2. Get your house ready. You are going to want to rest after you have your orthopedic surgeon do their magic on your shoulder. There are a few simple things you can do to make your time at home better:
    • Make a plan for your meals. You should have the foods you want in your home and the meals generally mapped out for about two weeks after your operation. Getting easier to manage foods can also help.
    • Get things to do that will not require you use your arm. Start from games of Words with Friends, load up your DVR or Netflix account, get some books you want to read. Your body needs time to heal so keeping your brain occupied can make the time spent at home go a lot better.
    • Put the things you will need to use in easy to reach spots. Depending on which arm was worked on during your shoulder surgery, you may need more or less help. It may be hard to brush your teeth (an electric tooth brush can help) or floss (there are floss options that help people who can only use one hand). Give some thought to what you will wear in the weeks after your shoulder surgery.
    • Get comfortable. There are some positions that will not be comfortable at all after your shoulder surgery. You may find it feels better to sleep in a reclining chair or on your couch. Use a pillow or cushion to rest your injured arm when you are watching TV or reading.
  3. Pay attention to the incision site. While most people do not have a problem, some can develop an infection. Look for swelling, redness, increased pain and any draining. If you see these things, you should call your orthopedic specialist’s office for guidance and help. If you have a fever, you should call their office as soon as you notice it. Your doctor’s office should give you instructions for the wound and your dressings. Make sure you understand them so that you can follow them to the letter.
  4. Take your pain medication before the pain gets too bad. Many people think they should hold out and not take the pain medication but that is not true. Pain medication will work better if you do not wait until your arm is in horrible pain. Also, research has shown that pain can impact your immune system. Take your medication as it was prescribed for the best results.
  5. Get back to physical therapy as soon as you can. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself regardless of the kind of orthopedic surgery that you have. The shoulder surgery itself will be more successful if you follow it by doing the work you need to do to get your muscles back into shape. When it comes to sports, your physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon can give you a better idea about when you can go back to the sports you love to do.

There are no “fun” surgeries. The good news is that you can make your recovery go a lot easier and faster with these tips. Your shoulder will heal and feel better.

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