3 Tips You Never Knew Could Help With Total Shoulder Replacement Recovery

Joseph A. Abboud, MD November 19th, 2014

If you’ve experienced severe arthritis in your shoulder or have suffered from an injury that damaged the cartilage in your joint, you may have been told that you’re a candidate for shoulder replacement, or shoulder arthroplasty. If so, you probably have a few questions:

  • What exactly is involved in the procedure?
  • What is the success rate of the surgery?
  • Are there surgeons in my area who specialize in shoulder replacements?
  • What can I do before surgery to help ensure success?
  • How should I plan for my total shoulder replacement recovery?
These questions are all valid and important and we recommend calling Rothman Orthopaedic Institute today to get them answered by an orthopedic doctor, who specializes in shoulders. When you set up an appointment at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, you’re guaranteed to see one of the nation’s top doctors for this particular area of care. In fact, our physicians are world-renowned for their research and innovation in orthopedic medicine and our specialists perform more than 3,000 shoulder and elbow surgeries each year. Our team has advanced training in shoulder replacement techniques and tools and we are proud to say that our surgeons are consistently ranked among the best in the Delaware Valley by US News & World Report.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the final question listed above: how should I plan for my total shoulder replacement recovery? The recovery process is the point during which you, as the patient, have the most control. At this point, you can’t reverse your injury. And it is up to your surgeon to perform the procedure with care and precision. But when it’s all said and done and you’re home and recovering, can you be disciplined enough to follow these basic tips below? You may be surprised to learn how valuable these steps can be in aiding your recovery process.
3 Tips You Never Knew Could Help With Total Shoulder Replacement Recovery 
1. SUPPORT & REST: Well, it might seem obvious that after surgery, your body will need rest and your shoulder will need to be supported. However, there are two specific tips that can really help provide your shoulder the necessary time to heal properly. 
  • First, find a small pillow or a rolled up towel that can serve as a prop to support your shoulder whenever you are reclining or lying down. 
  • Second, get used to using your other arm to stabilize and support the arm with the new shoulder joint. Even while you are still wearing a sling in the early weeks, a little extra reinforcement from a hand underneath is always helpful - especially when you are changing positions.
2. HEAT: Applying heat is a common recommendation for patients with shoulder pain in general. Especially for those who have simply worn out their joints from overuse and find that their shoulders are stiff and sore, heat can be an easy, natural way to loosen the muscles and relieve some pain. It’s good to remember that heat can be a helpful tool for you, too, when you’re going through total shoulder replacement recovery. As you progress through recovery, come out of the sling and begin to engage in more activity, apply heat to the joint prior to work or exercise. This will help to relax the shoulder muscles and facilitate smooth, pain-free movement.
3. MOVE: After the procedure, your doctor will show you some shoulder exercises that you should make a habit of doing each day (beginning after an initial period of rest immediately post-surgery). While you may have some stiffness or discomfort at first, these shoulder “warm up” movements are not difficult to complete. The hardest part is remembering to do them! But committing to regular exercise is certainly beneficial and worthwhile.Motions may include:
  • Shoulder blade rolls
  • Controlled swinging of the arms across the body
  • Pendulum stretching
  • Large circular motions in front of the body
Your surgeon or physical therapist may also recommend stretching with elastic exercise bands. This will not only help to strengthen your new shoulder joint, but will also help to establish range of motion.
Ask your surgeon for more tips on total shoulder replacement recovery. For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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