You will feel tired for several days. Your shoulder will be swollen, and you may notice that your skin is a different colour near the cut the doctor made (incision). Your hand and arm may also be swollen. This is normal and will go away in a few days. Depending on the medicine you had during the surgery, your entire arm may feel numb or like you cannot move it. This goes away in 12 to 24 hours.
You will have stitches (sutures) and a bandage on your shoulder. You may be able to take off the bandage in about 3 days, or when your doctor tells you to. Your shoulder will also be in a sling for about 4 weeks. You may take the sling off when you dress or wash and during rehabilitation (rehab). If the sutures are not the type that dissolve, your doctor will take them out 7 to 10 days after your surgery.
You will need rehab. This will probably start 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery and last for 2 to 3 months. It takes about 4 to 6 months before your shoulder heals.
You may be able to do easier daily activities in 2 to 3 weeks, as long as you do not use your affected arm. Most people who work at desk jobs can return to work in 1 to 2 weeks. If you lift, push, or pull at work, you may be able to return in 3 to 4 months.
Most people can start activities with low risk of shoulder injury in about 3 months. Jogging is an example of this type of activity. If you play sports, training may also start at this time. Most baseball or softball players can begin a program to toss a ball lightly. It may take 6 to 12 months to return to normal throwing. How long it takes depends on how damaged your shoulder was and how well your rehab goes.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 21, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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