Shoulder injuries are very common but surgical intervention is not needed in most cases. In these cases, taking a break from the cause of the injury, use of ice, and physical therapy are some of the effective options to overcome shoulder injuries. However, in cases of a serious tear to the group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder, surgery may become necessary. Rotator cuff surgery is not a complicated procedure. Arthroscopy – a minimally-invasive process involving the use of a camera and small instruments – is the most common technique used. Hence, there is no need to be scared if your doctor recommends shoulder surgery.
Recovering from shoulder surgery takes time, it can be up to six months depending on the extent of the injury, the type of surgery, and body healing properties. There are key tips to observe to ensure your shoulder recovers very well from surgery; adherence to these tips is as important as the surgery itself.
Embrace physical therapy
Physical therapy is the bedrock of your recovery from shoulder surgery hence you must take it very seriously. A specialist will educate in matters pertaining to gait, joint positioning, and transfer training. An exercise program aimed at increasing your range of motion will be designed for you – it is imperative to stick to the instructions and pace given by the therapist to avoid overexerting your strength. Some of the exercises you may be required to perform are:
- Isometric exercises, involving contractions of shoulder muscles without motion, are a safe way to start
- Shoulder forward elevation
- Pendulum: this involves resting on a table, at 90 degrees waist angle, with your unaffected hand. Then rock your body in a circular motion – 10 times both clockwise and counterclockwise.
- Neck flexion
- Walk-up exercise: crawling up a door frame or wall using your fingers, with your elbow straightened.
- Supported shoulder rotation
- Shoulder internal rotation
Note: regular exercises are very important to fast recovery from shoulder surgery; an average person may need up to one hour daily – three 15-minute exercise sessions.
Stay away from certain activities or movements
Some activities or movements can significantly interfere with the recovery of your shoulder from surgery, they include:
- Objects lifting
- Raising your arms above your shoulder level or head
- Sideways movement of the arm
- Reaching behind your body
Note: the first stage of recovery is immobilization which why a sling is used to keep your arm checked. This sling may be removed between four to six weeks and physical therapy will resume.
Avoid certain positions
For a quick and itch-free recovery from shoulder surgery, it is imperative to avoid certain sleeping positions that could strain the shoulder e.g. lying on the affected side or your back. A recliner chair is a very useful aid in this regard.
How a Recliner aids recovery from a shoulder injury
Comfortable sleeping or resting positions: investing in a good recliner chair will help you to get several comfortable positions to sleep that does not exert pressure on your shoulder. You can easily recline or tilt the chair to a comfortable angle and lock it in place. You can adjust it after a while into another comfortable position. Many people find recliner chairs very helpful in this regard. This blog post discusses some interesting tips that will help you choose the right lift chairs for yourself. Having the right type of chairs to sit on when recovering from surgery or battling with lower back pain issues is extremely important but often overlooked. Usually, we engage our arms and shoulders when sitting or standing. This level of pressure is discouraged for someone recovering from shoulder surgery. Recliner lift chairs are designed to make sitting and standing almost effortless.
Beware of Painkillers
The typical pain felt after any surgery is alleviated by some medications. The comfort enjoyed is good but it can significantly hinder your recovery process by masking your pain during physical therapy hence making it difficult to assess your recovery.
Dressing after shoulder surgery
In the first 4 to 6 weeks, your sling will still be on hence go for very loose clothing. Shirts that require pulling them over your head should be replaced with those with a zipper or buttons that easy to use. It is better not to raise your arms above your shoulder level around this time.
Women should choose bras that close in the front or clasp the bra in the front before twisting it back to avoid getting their shoulder in awkward angles. This also includes wearing shoes that are easy to put on, preferably with one hand.
Driving after surgery
You won’t likely be sitting behind the wheel in the next 6 weeks but you should be able to safely get back to driving after 6 weeks. Not being able to drive for the first 6 weeks after surgery is a good motivation to get serious about your recovery process including all the tips discussed above. People with a minor procedure can start driving earlier, about 4 weeks.
The extent of shoulder injuries differs as well as our health conditions hence the recovery time from shoulder surgery varies – Full recovery from shoulder surgery can take up to 6 months. It is vital not to push too hard because you want a fast recovery or going at another’s pace otherwise you may end up worse off. Stick to the process marked out for you by your specialists and you will be just fine.
Note: Throughout your recovery process, the wisest thing to do is follow the instructions of your doctor and not assume. Sometimes, you may think some things are safe because you don’t feel pain but they may set you back in your recovery process. Going too early into physical activities in your recovery process does not just affect the healing of your shoulder but can strain other body parts such as the spine and elbow.
Shoulder surgery is not a complicated procedure but the recovery process can take up to six months or even longer if you don’t do things right. The stages of rehabilitation include immobilization, passive exercise, and finally active exercises. The tips above will help you to recover fully and effectively from shoulder surgery, as fast as possible.