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Recovering From Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Date: June 18, 2015 Category: Uncategorized

Preparing yourself for any surgery can be an intimidating task, especially an operation as extensive as joint replacement. If you’re considering a shoulder replacement or already have a procedure scheduled, here’s a closer look at what you can expect throughout the recovery process. 

The recovery process is different for each patient and varies based on your individual situation. In general, the best way to get the most from your new shoulder joint is to take your rehab seriously and dedicate yourself to the therapy exercises prescribed by your doctor. When does that therapy start? Let’s look at a typical timeline:

First 10 Days After Surgery

After you emerge successfully from surgery, the recovery process begins right away. This can sometimes involve a short stay at the hospital, but through Excelsior’s outpatient surgery program, you might qualify to avoid that stay altogether and spend your first few days in a luxury recovery suite or even at home.

About 10 days later, you’ll have your first post-operative visit with your doctor, and any staples or sutures will be removed from your shoulder. This is when therapy begins.

1-3 Months After Surgery

In the next few months, you’ll undergo a physical therapy program including stretches and exercises that are meant to:

  • Build muscle strength
  • Increase your range of motion
  • Protect your new joint
  • And help you get back to normal living, pain-free.

Taking this part of your rehabilitation seriously is important. Roughly 80% of your normal shoulder function can return over the first few months, but it takes time and effort. Most patients will have therapy sessions twice a week for 4-12 weeks, depending on how quickly you recover.

Many people are able to reach their arm up to horizon-level and resume driving within about 4-6 weeks. After 3 months of recovery and therapy, patients have typically regained most of their mobility and can reach their arms above their heads.

The Next 9 Months

This time period usually consists of less intense therapy but is still important to the recovery process. If 80% of function returns in the first few months as we said earlier, the next 9 months can bring the return of the final 20%. Getting the most of your new shoulder will take time, but after a year of recovery, patients can usually enjoy all of their normal pre-surgery activities — without the pain of a worn-down joint.


If you’re considering shoulder replacement and want to know more about the road ahead, we have plenty of information for you! Look for one of our upcoming patient seminars, or contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our surgeons. 

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