Rehabilitation After Surgery

Postoperative rehabilitation plays a vital role in preparing to resume life with a new shoulder. You will want to cooperate, follow your surgeon’s instructions and work hard to achieve the best outcome.

Early Rehabilitation

Stretching and normal daily activities often begin the day of surgery. Pain medication may be taken before your therapy as you request. At first a physical therapist (def.) will gently move your arm and shoulder through various positions as you relax. These passive exercises help prevent stiffness as you gradually regain shoulder motion. You will also tighten the muscles (def.) of your hand and arm by flexing your hand, wrist and elbow.

The physical therapist will teach you the safest ways to get into and out of bed or a chair, and on and off the toilet. Your therapist will track your daily progress and keep your surgeon informed.

Phase I:- Stretching

Stretching exercises help you regain as much shoulder movement as possible following surgery. Your surgical team will give you detailed instructions about which exercises to do and how often. These exercises demonstrate the stretching of the left shoulder.

Exercise I-1. Pendulum Exercise

Exercise I-2. Abduction

Exercise I-3. External Rotation

Exercise I-4. Flexion

Exercise I-5. Extension

Exercise I-6. Internal Rotation

Exercise I-7. Pulley

Exercise I-8. Overhead Bar

Exercise I-9. Wall Walking (both arms)

Exercise I-10. Door Hanging

Exercise I-11. Posterior Stretching

Phase II: – Strengthening

You will begin strengthening exercises only after you have achieved as much movement as possible. Ordinarily, people don’t start strengthening exercises until 6 to 12 weeks after surgery. Do not start these exercises until you have the necessary supplies and instructions, including which exercises to perform and how often. These exercises demonstrate the strengthening of the left shoulder.

Exercise II-1. External Rotation

Exercise II-2. Abduction

Exercise II-3. Extension

Exercise II-4. Internal Rotation

Exercise II-5. Flexion

Exercise II-6. Wall Push-Up

Exercise II-7. Knee Push-Up

Exercise II-8. Regular Push-Up

Exercise II-9. Shoulder Shrug

Exercise II-10. Shoulder Press-Up

Exercise II-11. Pulley Strengthening

Exercise II-12. Anterior Deltoid Strengthening

Answers to your questions

How long will I be in the hospital?

You can expect to be in the hospital for 3 to 5 days after shoulder replacement surgery, but it can be longer depending on your circumstances.

When will I be able to move my shoulder?

You will be instructed in the active use of your arm for the gentle activities of daily living on the first postoperative day.

What do I wear?

You should be able to wear regular clothes after surgery, i.e., a loose-fitting, buttoned shirt and comfortable trousers or skirt. Women may find a bra uncomfortable in the early days. You will be instructed to wear your sling for a week or two after your surgery when you are out in public. It usually is not necessary to wear the sling when you are at home.

Will I need to do anything special when I go home?

You will need to perform the special rehabilitation exercise program as directed by your surgeon.

When can I return to work?

You may return to work when your surgeon gives the OK.

When can I drive?

Your surgeon will let you know when you can start driving again.

Will I have a scar?

Yes, there will be a scar, however, the formation of scars varies from patient to patient. The incision is usually only about 3 inches long.

How can I protect my new shoulder?

  • Follow your surgeon’s instructions.
  • Stay healthy and physically active without straining your shoulder.
  • Avoid lifting, pushing or pulling heavy objects.
  • Talk to your surgeon before starting any sport or activity that might affect your new shoulder.

How long will my new shoulder last?

Many factors affect the life of a typical shoulder implant, including:

  • Your preoperative physical condition and activity level
  • The design and materials of the shoulder
  • The surgeon’s skill in positioning the implants
  • Your willingness to undertake rehabilitation according to your surgeon’s directions

You and your surgeon can discuss your particular situation, the type of shoulder you will have, and your postoperative lifestyle.

Only an orthopaedic surgeon (def.) trained in total shoulder replacement can provide advice about whether total shoulder replacement surgery is right for you. See your physician to learn more.

The performance of a total joint replacement depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with current infections or conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Please consult with your physician about the advisability of any medical treatment that you are considering.

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