Shoulder Replacement | How Long Does it Take to Recover?

Sep 23, 2022 | Articles

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Shoulder Replacement?

There is nothing more aggravating than having constant shoulder pain. When you find that normal activities drain your strength or leave you reaching for the strongest painkillers, perhaps it’s time to consider a more permanent solution to alleviate the gnawing pain. Shoulder replacement surgery might be your only option and if you can summon the courage to go through with it, it will be a decision that you won’t regret.  Not only will your mobility be restored, but your quality of life will improve.

What Symptoms May Signal the Need for Shoulder Replacement?

shoulder replacement-bone specialists

Various symptoms will reveal themselves signalling the need for replacement surgery such as the inability to get dressed on your own, moderate to severe pain even whilst resting, loss of motion or weakness in the shoulder as well as continued pain even after taking anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone injections.

Preparations to Make Before Replacement Surgery

If you are considering shoulder replacement surgery, it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect during the recovery period. On consultation, before the surgery takes place, you will be educated on what to expect postoperatively, exercises to do and how to prepare for your home environment, taking into account that your arm will be immobilised in a sling for a period. A physiotherapist can work with you on the positioning of appliances and furniture in your home to make it easier to access and assist with your daily routine.

Rehabilitation after Replacement Surgery

The day after your surgery has taken place, the orthopaedic surgeon will teach you exercises to strengthen your shoulder. Replacement surgery is major, so don’t expect recovery to happen overnight. Once you have been given the all-clear and have been discharged from the hospital, your rehabilitation begins.

How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover from a Shoulder Replacement?

It can take up to 24 months to fully recover from shoulder replacement surgery. Recovery is a slow process and there are milestones that you need to achieve before your shoulder is fully functional again.

There will be some discomfort from the procedure and most patients find that the pain subsides after a 6 to 12-week period. Depending on your progress during physiotherapy, and the at-home exercise regime, you can resume your normal leisure activities as early as 8 weeks into recovery.

Gentle exercise, such as swimming, can be started 6 weeks after surgery and if you are a sports enthusiast, you can resume your favourite activity after 3 months. Gardening can also be resumed after 3 months as long as the range is low, and breaks are taken frequently. Should the shoulder operated on be your dominant side, then more active sports and similar activities may only be resumed after 6 months.

The End Result

Although it may take 24 months to regain full mobility, you will ultimately be glad that you braved having shoulder replacement surgery once you are no longer in excruciating daily pain. At Pretoria’s Life Wilgers Hospital we understand that taking the step toward shoulder replacement surgery is a bold one, but rest assured you will be in the capable hands of a world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon, namely Dr Jan De Vos.

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