How long does recovering from a shoulder replacement take?

Shoulder replacement surgery takes place in the hospital. Patients stay overnight in the hospital and are discharged home the following day. A sling is worn for the first five weeks. The sling can be removed for bathing, hygiene and gentle stretching exercises several times per day. Patients are allowed to use their hand on the surgery side to type, write, grasp and use utensils immediately. Pain relief is usually quick and most patients feel less pain in their shoulder by one week after surgery than their pain level in the shoulder prior to surgery.

After five weeks, the sling is completely discontinued and formal therapy begins on the shoulder. Patients are allowed to lift their arm and shoulder in any position, but also to maintain a 5 lbs. lifting limit on that side for six weeks. Most patients have minimal soreness in the shoulder at this point.

At around three months after surgery patients are allowed to lift weight as tolerated with the shoulder. Strengthening the shoulder may begin with a therapy or on your own depending on preference. Full recovery of strength in the shoulder is typically complete by four months after surgery.

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