After Shoulder Replacement Surgery: Your Home Recovery

Man leaning over swinging arm front to back doing shoulder exercise.

At home, your goal is to return safely and comfortably to your normal activities. To get the most from your new shoulder, you need to take an active role in your recovery. Be sure to follow your exercise program and see your surgeon for checkups.

The first months

Remember that it takes 3 to 6 months for your shoulder to heal. Recovery from a broken bone may take longer. You will have some pain and swelling at first. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine. He or she may suggest you use an ice pack. You may also keep using your sling. Your exercise program will involve more active use of your arm and shoulder. It’s vital to do your exercises exactly as told to get back maximum strength, flexibility, and movement.

Checking your progress

Your sutures or staples will most likely be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. Your surgeon will check the range of motion and strength in your shoulder for the first year after surgery. He or she may see you once a year after that. Be sure to keep all your appointments and ask any questions you have. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you take antibiotics before you have dental work or surgery. You may be given a card that says you have a prosthesis. Use this card at security gates with metal detectors.

Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Increased pain, numbness, or tingling

  • Drainage, redness, or swelling around the incision

  • A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider