Post-Op Care


Week 1-5: Passive motion only – this means not using your own muscles to move your arm. You will start in physical therapy where the therapist will help you accomplish passive motion and instruct you on a home exercise program. The purpose of this is to maintain mobility of the capsule (inner lining of the joint) so that it does not stiffen up.

You will be in an abduction sling (sling with a pillow at your side) for 5 weeks following surgery to protect the repair. During this time, you can remove it to shower and to complete you exercises. When moving the elbow/hand/wrist please make sure to keep the elbow tucked against your body as though you are holding a pen in your arm pit. To wash under your arm you can bend slightly at the waist while your arm is relaxed to create space to wash and apply deodorant.

Week 5-10: Active motion begins where you are able to start using your own muscles to lift the arm. You will continue with physical therapy with the goal of achieving full motion in the shoulder.

Week 10 +: You will continue with physical therapy and once adequate motion has been achieved you will begin to work on strengthening of the shoulder.


How long you are off of work is somewhat dependent upon requirements for you to complete your position at work and if your employer will allow you to return with restrictions. In addition, restrictions are dependent upon your recovery.

Here is an approximate expectation for return to work:

Surgery – 2 weeks postop: Typically you are deemed off of work due to pain medications, physical therapy, and overall recovery.
2-5 weeks postop: You will be provided with work restrictions at your first postoperative appointment. You will not be able to use your
surgical arm and must remain in a sling. Light administrative work will
be allowed. Unable to drive if taking narcotic pain medication and likely decreased hours to be able to attend physical therapy.
5-10 weeks: Can discontinue use of sling, lifting restriction of 5 lbs with both hands. Activities only at waist level.
10+ weeks: We will continue to advance lifting restrictions as well as
reaching restrictions based upon recovery. If your job requires
significant physical labor you will likely be released full duty without
restrictions near the 6 month time.


Initially postop pain medication is oxycodone/APAP (percoceet) which is a narcotic pain medication. Refills will require a written prescription be picked up at our office. You as a patient do not have to pick it up, but you will need to let us know who will be picking it up. Taking the medication as prescribed the first week is appropriate, however, after that begin to wean off of the medication by spacing out the frequency and/or decreasing the number you are taking.

Please refrain from NSAIDs (ibuprofen, motrin, aleve, naproxen) until 6 weeks postop. Using it occasionally is okay, but not routinely as it will block inflammation needed for scar tissue formation.

See Also

In addition to our procedure-specific recommendations for this surgery, be sure to read the following articles from the General Care section of our site: