First 3 weeks:
Keep your arm in the sling, but open the sling a few times per day to allow the elbow to straighten. You need to sleep with the sling on as well. Apply ice packs to the shoulder during the first few days for 15-20 minutes at a time. To wash under your arm, bend forward while keeping your arm and shoulder relaxed. Gravity will cause your arm to go away from your body, allowing easy access to your armpit. Keep your dressings on until the first post-operative visit at 2 weeks. The dressings are waterproof, but try to keep them as dry as possible. If they become very soiled or soaked they should be replaced. It is normal to develop bruising over the shoulder after surgery. Please call Dr Grey urgently if any redness appears around the dressings or if your pain suddenly worsens.
3 – 6 weeks:
The sling can be weaned after 4 weeks. You will be referred to a physiotherapist. Active assisted shoulder movements (using your opposite arm to move the operated shoulder) can be performed as pain allows, but limit forward elevation to shoulder level (90 degrees) and external rotation to 20-30 degrees. Do not force the shoulder any further as this may place the repair at risk. Active shoulder movements and further active assisted movements are performed as pain allows, without forcing the shoulder. Do not move your shoulder into the throwing position (abduction and external rotation) yet as this will place the surgical repair at risk.
6 – 12 weeks:
Continue range of motion exercises and aim for full range of motion by 12 weeks. Gradual strengthening is initiated but avoid heavy lifting and placing high loads on the shoulder with the arms away from the body such as push-ups and bench-pressing. The physiotherapist will also work on scapular posture and proprioception exercises. You can start driving at about 6 weeks.
After 12 weeks:
The physiotherapist will focus on strength and endurance training. Sport-specific exercises are commenced once full range of shoulder motion has been achieved. Depending on the type of sports, full participation will only be safe between 3 and 6 months. Manual labourers should only return to normal duty at about 3 to 4 months.
Need a consultation?
Please contact the practise to arrange a consultation.