Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder Surgery

Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder Surgery

Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder Surgery

At Barkman and Smith Physical Therapy, we tend to see quite a few post-surgery patients which includes shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery is notoriously uncomfortable and the rehab process can be somewhat lengthy and can be very limiting. Imagine tying your arm to your side for somewhere between 2-4 weeks and after that still being limited in your ability to use your arm for up to 3 months. 

Think of all the activities of daily life that would suddenly become very difficult. If you’ve had shoulder surgery please feel free to leave feedback on your journey. If you would like to learn more about the shoulder anatomy in general, click here!

So with that in mind, we wanted to share some tips and cover some of the most common “how do I” questions we hear after orthopedic shoulder surgery.  Let's start with sleeping.

Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder Surgery

Sleeping – Research has proven that sleeping after orthopedic surgery is a very important part of the healing process and our bodies need as much sleep as possible in order to keep us in a healthy state of healing.

Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder Surgery

  • Recliners tend to be best with your sling and a pillow under or behind your elbow. The goal is to support your arm from underneath and behind 
  • If you don’t have a recliner than lying on your back with your arm also supported from underneath and behind your elbow is the next best thing. You want to prevent your elbow from passing behind you 
  • You will still move in your sleep and unfortuantely when you do your arm will likely wake you . Take your pain medcation as prescribed by your physician.
  • Perform your exercises and stretches as prescribed by your physical therapist before bed. This will help you start the night with a more relaxed shoulder and help you sleep longer before your shoulder wakes you   

Dressing - thinking ahead and preparing your clothes before your surgery will be a big help! 

  • Loose fitting clothes, short sleeves and button up shirts work best. 
  • On our YouTube video we cover an example of how to don/doff a shirt, button up and t-shirt . Click here to view video
  • Taking Care of your Shoulder After Shoulder SurgeryLadies and bras – you have a couple of choices don't wear one, use a tank top with some built in support, or clasp in the front and spin it around 

Bathing/Cleaning under your arm 

  • Your doctor will have likely instructed you not to take a bath and to be careful when taking a shower. Your shoulder will have several steri-strips of bandage over your incision sites. These are to stay on or to be changed out based on your surgeons instructions 
  • When showering cover up the incision site to keep it out of the flow of water. You may use press and seal saran wrap to cover the area and keep it dry.  
  • You may clean the area around the incision with a damp cloth. For more details, would like to invite you to check out our more detailed video on our Youtube channel by clicking here. 

We hope that you have found some benefit from this post. These are simple yet effective tips on taking care of your shoulder after shoulder surgery. One of our goals is to help you combat sleepless nights and put yourself in the best position after your surgery. Remember, if sleep continues to be a bothersome issues contact your physical therapist or physician for further suggestions. A sleep aid medication might be a better option for you.

Barkman and Smith wants to help you heal and get you back to your normal life. We have learned that being able to help you return to things that means a lot to you is a huge source of fullfullment for our team. We feel honored taking this recovery journey with you.

At our three physical therapy clinics in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas, we strive to be partners with you to help you recover pain-free movement. Our customized programs follow an intensive assessment and include home-exercise components for a speedy and complete recovery.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have here  Schedule an appointment today with one of our occupational/physical therapists!

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References:

Private Practice Section (ppsapta.org)

Physical Therapy in Bedford and Irving for Shoulder - Rotator Cuff Tears (barkmanandsmith.com)