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How to Ensure a Successful Recovery From Your Shoulder Surgery

Are you scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery? While this can have many benefits including improved mobility and pain relief, it does require an extensive healing period. Here is a total guide on what you can expect from the recovery and some tips to keep you comfortable and safe as you heal.

If you are experiencing pain, limited mobility, or visual abnormalities in your shoulder, you may be wondering if you need orthopedic surgery. While in some cases, shoulder pain can be treated with non-surgical methods such as rest, ice or heat, or some form of medication, there are times when surgical intervention is necessary. 

You may want to talk to your orthopedic surgeon about surgery if you are experiencing: 

  • Radiating pain in your shoulder 
  • Extreme pain even when you aren’t active 
  • Difficulty raising your arm 
  • A snapping or popping sound in your shoulder 

It’s Always Best to Book a Consultation With Your Surgeon 

If a shoulder injury or pain is affecting your quality of life, you should book a consultation with your surgeon immediately. During this appointment, he/she can assess your condition, general health, and concerns to determine if orthopedic surgery is required. 

Customized Orthopedic Surgery At Our Kelowna Private Hospital 

At our Kelowna private hospital, our team of board-certified surgeons are highly trained and experienced in a range of orthopedic surgeries including shoulder, knee, foot and ankle treatments. During a consultation at our private hospital, we can help devise a customized treatment plan that will help minimize your pain, restore mobility, and improve your quality of life. 

Want to know more? 


Your Complete Guide to Recovering From Shoulder Surgery 

Are you feeling frustrated with chronic or recurring shoulder pain? Have you recently had a shoulder injury that has resulted in a loss of flexibility and movement? If so, your surgeon might suggest undergoing shoulder surgery. 

When performed by a board-certified surgeon, this is a safe and effective way to restore your health and quality of life. However, as with all orthopedic surgeries, undergoing an invasive treatment for your shoulder will require an extensive recovery period. 

Here is a total guide on what to expect after undergoing shoulder surgery and some tips to keep you comfortable and healthy during your recovery: 

Shoulder Surgery: Your Recovery Timeline 

It may require some time to recover from shoulder surgery. However, resting and concentrating on your healing is important to ensure you get back to normal as soon as possible. While the duration of the recovery period will vary from person to person, it can take up to six months to fully heal and return to your normal activities. 

The recovery period is made up of the following phases: 

1. Post-Operative Phase

Immediately after your procedure, your surgeon will likely keep you in the recovery room for monitoring. After you regain consciousness, you’ll receive any necessary advice on how to: 

  • Take care of your wounds 
  • Manage your pain 
  • Control any post-operative inflammation 

You will also need to enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend to drive you to and from our private hospital, and to assist you for the first few days at home while you recover. 

2. Immobilization to Promote Healing 

Following the procedure, you may have stitches or a bandage on your shoulder. This bandage can typically be removed within a few days of your surgery. However, your surgeon may want you to keep your shoulder in a sling for at least 10 days or longer. This is important because a period of immobilization will promote healing. 

During this time: 

  • Wear loose clothing so you won’t have to move your arm a lot while dressing 
  • Ask a family member or a friend to help you with daily activities such as cooking, driving, and cleaning
  • Get enough sleep. To keep your arm and shoulder more comfortable, keep a thin pillow under the back of your arm whenever you are lying down
  • Do some gentle exercise, such as walking. This will promote blood flow, prevent constipation, and help you recover faster
  • Stay hydrated and follow a healthy diet. You may want to consider adding a fibre supplement to avoid any constipation

If you have any questions or concerns at this time, such as increasing amounts of pain or any signs of infection, contact your surgeon immediately. 

3. Gentle and Assisted Physical Therapy 

A few weeks after your procedure, your surgeon will recommend that you work with a physical therapist to regain movement and range of motion in your shoulder. Some passive shoulder range of motion exercises may include: 

  • Gentle pendulum exercises
  • Putty squeeze exercises
  • Isometric exercises

Remember: At this time, it’s important that you only do these exercises with your physical therapist to avoid any further damage to your shoulder. 


4. Active Physical Therapy to Build Strength and Increase Mobility 

Around three months after your surgery, you may be able to start doing more active exercises as your shoulder heals and you continue to improve your strength and flexibility. This can include: 

  • Overhead reaching and throwing exercises 
  • Resistance band exercises 
  • Scapular stabilization exercises 

Your Surgeon and Physical Therapist Can Create a Customized Treatment Plan for You

Physical therapy after your shoulder surgery is very important. Together with your surgeon and physical therapist, you can create a customized exercise program that will help strengthen your shoulder quickly and safely. 

Top Tip: To achieve optimal results, you’ll need to perform these exercises properly and as often and long as your surgeon advises you. 

Contact Us

If you are experiencing chronic and debilitating shoulder pain and you want to get back on track to a healthy and happy life, our team of surgeons can help! To find out more about how our orthopedic surgeries can aid in improving your strength, flexibility, and well-being, contact our Kelowna private hospital at 250-868-9799 or fill in our online form.


Q. What is arthroscopic shoulder surgery?
Shoulder arthroscopy is an advanced and minimally invasive way to address any problems in the shoulder. Your surgeon will use a tiny camera called an arthroscope to examine and/or repair any tissues in and around your shoulder joint. Everything You Need to Know About Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Q. How long will I have to wait to return to work after shoulder surgery?
This highly depends on the type of job you have. Typically, people with desk jobs can return to work within two to three weeks. However, if your job requires you to do any lifting, pulling, or pushing, it could take up to four months for you to safely return to work. 

Q. What are the risks associated with shoulder surgery?
As with any surgery, there are certain risks associated with shoulder surgery. This includes bleeding during or after the surgery, infection of the wound, or scarring of the skin. However, when you work with a board-certified surgeon, your surgical risks are significantly reduced.

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