There comes a time in life when a joint may be causing you more harm than good, which can certainly be the case with your shoulder. If you’ve been dealing with a painful shoulder that places considerable limitations on your life, a joint replacement surgery may be just the solution you need to restore your quality of life.
If you and Dr. Struan Coleman decide to take this important step, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. While Dr. Coleman provides you with the tools necessary for a stronger, pain-free joint, you can do your part to give your new shoulder the best chances for a successful outcome.
Here’s some advice for speeding up your recovery from shoulder replacement surgery.
It used to be that doctors, including orthopedists, recommended full rest after a surgery to allow time for your body to heal. This thinking has given way to new science that shows getting up and moving after a surgery is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health — especially when it comes to joint replacement surgeries.
If you’ve heard stories of doctors getting their patients up and moving the day after a knee or hip replacement, they’re largely true. We’ve found that moving the joint is the best way to signal your body to ramp up its healing resources in order to strengthen the area.
Joints are meant to move, which is why you’ve undergone the replacement surgery in the first place — your movement has been severely limited by a damaged joint that’s beyond your body’s ability to repair it.
When we replace your joint, we give your body the parts necessary to restore mobility and range of motion. While we don’t recommend that you hit the pitcher’s mound the the day after your surgery, we do want your body to get used to the new shoulder as quickly as possible.
To that end, we recommend a fairly intense course of physical therapy immediately after your surgery, which is designed to strengthen your shoulder the right way in order to prevent re-injury. Under the guidance of a physical therapist (who works closely with us), you will gradually regain your range of motion and strengthen your joint, allowing it to build slowly until you have full use again, without the pain and limitations of your old joint.
While we recommend moving your shoulder, we caution you not to push it. It’s hard to overestimate just how important your shoulder is until it’s taken out of action. Everything from eating to waving hello begins with your shoulder, which is why you may become frustrated during your recovery.
Take it easy and be patient. Work with us and your physical therapist to slowly regain use of your arm and know when to take it easy and give it a rest. A good recovery is all about balance — knowing when to push it and when to take a break to allow time for your body to work behind the scenes to shore up your new joint.
When you’re not doing your exercises, slip your arm back in your sling. Resist the temptation to slide it back out to grab something out of the fridge, and just rely on your other arm for a few weeks. If you overstress your new joint, you can set yourself back, making your recovery even longer.
Even when you feel your shoulder begin to gather strength, follow our instructions about not pushing off with your arms and not lifting heavy objects for at least a month. Your patience and hard work will pay off in the end, and you’ll be waving both arms freely again in no time.
Outside of striking the right balance between exercising and resting your new shoulder joint, pay close attention to anything that might seem problematic, especially during the first week after your surgery. Remember, you have an open wound, so if you suspect an infection might be developing, don’t wait to call us. Or if something just doesn’t feel right, we’re happy to take a look. Your success is important to us, and we’re with you every step of the way through your recovery.
To learn more about our shoulder replacement surgery, please give us a call, or use the online scheduling tool on this website to request a consultation.