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4 important things to know before shoulder surgery

4 important things to know before shoulder surgery
3 minutes, 40 seconds

Each year, it’s estimated that over 50,000 people in the United States get surgery done on one or both of their shoulders. Reasons for shoulder surgery most commonly include trauma to the shoulder from injuries. These include bone fractures, arthritis and rotator cuff injuries.

Surgery on the shoulder can cause a few different effects. The most common include stiffness, reduced mobility, and pain or discomfort. If you’re scheduled for a surgical operation, here are some things that you may wish to know before your shoulder surgery.

Things you will likely have wished you knew before shoulder surgery

  • The value of physical therapy — Physical therapy can be a great preoperative and postoperative resource for almost all kinds of patients. A physical therapist can help you develop a plan to build strength before your operation so that you’re better prepared for the surgery and can prevent significant muscle weakening in the weeks to follow. Physical therapy is also useful as a postoperative resource because it can help you build your strength and improve your range of motion while you’re recovering. It can help support your recovery and prevent the excessive buildup of scar tissue that could limit your mobility in the future. Many patients say that they wish they knew the value of physical therapy before undergoing shoulder surgery.
  • The recovery time — It will probably take you several weeks to begin returning to normal daily activities. The recovery time after shoulder surgery can feel pretty lengthy, especially when you’re used to being able to do things on your own. You should expect to take several weeks to get back to your normal functioning capacity, and if your shoulder condition before surgery was very poor you may experience increased functional capacity. If you’re someone who works in an environment where heavy lifting and intensive physical activity are required to complete tasks, you should anticipate needing several months of recovery time to be able to return to work. Shoulder surgery can put you out of commission for extended periods of time, but the results are worth the wait.
  • Ways to pass the time — Another thing that many say they wish they knew before shoulder surgery: Since you’ll be needing several weeks to recover, you’ll want to come up with ways to pass the time too. You should prepare activities that you can do to keep yourself occupied. You likely won’t be able to return right away to some of the activities you’re used to doing, so you should prepare some fun activities or hobbies that won’t require the use of your shoulder.
  • Benefits of pain medication — Pain medication will likely be helpful for you to use to tolerate the pain and discomfort after surgery. It’s not necessary in every instance, but it can help you if you feel overwhelmed with the pain immediately following shoulder surgery. Anti-inflammatory pain medications can also help you reduce the swelling and inflammation that will occur immediately after the surgery.

What are some of the aftereffects of shoulder surgery that you might have wished you knew?

In addition to the things listed above, you should also note some of the physical effects of shoulder surgery on your body. This includes the sensations you’ll experience immediately after surgery and for the following weeks. Here are some more things you’ll probably have wished you knew before shoulder surgery:

  • Stiffness — You will likely experience stiffness after your shoulder surgery. There could be a number of reasons for this stiffness, including pain, inflammation and even scar tissue buildup.
  • Nerve damage — Nerve damage is a potential complication of shoulder surgery. It can cause tingling, burning and numbness. If you think you may have experienced nerve damage, physical therapy can help you manage your symptoms to reduce pain.
  • Muscle weakness — One of the aftereffects that you’ll experience is muscle weakness. You can help prevent significant muscle loss by attending preoperative physical therapy sessions and rebuilding your muscle strength through postoperative physical therapy sessions. Muscle weakness is one of the most common consequences of shoulder surgery because it can be hard to regularly move and use the muscles that have been operated on.

Alliance PTP can help you find PT to address the things you wish you knew before shoulder surgery

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you before and after your shoulder surgery. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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