Full Shoulder Replacement? Dos and Don’ts for a Full Recovery

If you have ever experienced shoulder pain and loss of full range of motion, you know that simple tasks like brushing your hair or driving a car can be excruciating. As we age, our most-used joints experience wear and tear. From professional athletes and weekend warriors to crafters and nurses, years of overuse may lead to any number of problems including arthritis, fractures, tears, or even dislocation.

Early treatments may include rest, physical therapy, oral pain medication, and injections. When the pain becomes unbearable and negatively affects your quality of life, shoulder replacement-replacing your ball and cap with artificial joints-may become the best option.

So, you have spoken to your orthopaedic surgeon, and full shoulder replacement is on your horizon. Here are ways to make sure you are back and better than ever within one year of surgery.


Do talk to your surgeon and ask lots of questions. Shoulder replacement is a real operation. Depending on your existing health and pain medication use, you will either have in-patient or out-patient surgery.

Don’t jump into surgery without evaluating all other less-invasive options. You need to be prepared to take it easy after the operation. Your loved ones, employer, and co-workers will all be affected by this decision.

The Day After Surgery

Do keep your arm in a sling. Following the surgery, you will need to limit motion as much as possible. Keep the sling on except when dressing, bathing, brushing teeth, eating, or completing other daily activities.

Don’t remove the sling for non-daily living activities. This will hinder your healing.

One Week After Surgery

Do visit your doctor for a post-operation check. Remember to keep your arm in the sling unless you are performing activities of daily living.This is also the point where you will be able to start simple exercises with assistance.

Don’t continue using pain medications. Post-operative pain medication dependency is a serious problem.

Three to Six Weeks After Surgery

Do work on your range of motion. Exercises should be done daily and start from a lying position. Move your arm up and over your head to stretch your tendons. Once you have mastered raising your arm while lying down, work on raising your hand with your palm against a wall.

Don’t push yourself too hard. Remember that recovery is about quality over quantity. You should be working up to moving your shoulder in natural ways without pain.

Three to Six Months After Surgery

Do resume activities that exercise the joint naturally. These include running, swimming, cycling, or golf.

Don’t lift weights. You should be strengthening muscles without exertion. Lifting weights could lead to tearing and further injury during the healing process.

Six Months to One Year

Do continue performing activities that allow you to exercise your shoulder. Have fun!

Don’t over do it.

If you follow these tips, you should be pain-free and have full motion within one year of your shoulder replacement surgery.