shoulder-replacement-rehabilitationDeciding to undergo a shoulder replacement surgical procedure is only the first step towards finding relief from shoulder pain. Proper post-operative care and an extensive physical therapy rehabilitation program will help to ensure a successful recovery and rehabilitation from shoulder replacement surgery and prolong the life of your implant.

The Joint Surgery Center of Excellence offers a team of renowned orthopedic surgeons committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for every patient. We take the time to design individualized, post-operative physical therapy rehabilitation plans specific to each patient, a feature that leads to improved recovery and exceptional patient satisfaction.

To schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, please contact us by calling (888) 318-2842.

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Post-Operative Instructions for Shoulder Joint Rehabilitation

After a shoulder joint replacement procedure, it is critical that patients take proper care of the shoulder in order to reduce pain quickly and help prevent complications. Our orthopedic surgeons have compiled a series of post-operative guidelines that will help to maintain the integrity of your joint implant and to achieve the best long-term results.

Shoulder Immobilization

For the first week after shoulder replacement surgery, the shoulder will be placed into an immobilizing sling. This sling should be worn at all times, including during sleep. It may be removed for brief periods of time to shower or perform certain range-of-motion exercises, as directed by the surgeon and physical therapist.

Range of Motion Exercises

Following shoulder replacement surgery, it is important to regularly perform exercises to avoid stiffening of the shoulder. Flexion and extension of the elbow is encouraged, at least 3 to 4 times a day to retain full mobility of the elbow in the days the sling must be worn. However, patients who have undergone this type of surgery should try not to move the arm at the shoulder joint at all. Moving the shoulder in the wrong ways after surgery could damage some of the surgical work that was done, especially to the soft tissue that was repaired during surgery.

Pain-Relief & Medications

After surgery, a pain-relieving medication will be prescribed for patients to take regularly throughout the first few days. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Advil or Motrin, should not be used unless specifically directed by the surgeon. Ice should also be used in intervals of 15-30 minutes to help decrease pain and swelling of the shoulder.

Dressing and Incision Care

The dressing over the incision should be well cared-for, making sure not to get it wet. Once the sutures are removed, the skin around the incision may be gently washed. The shoulder must not be submerged in water until the incision has been evaluated, and the surgeon has determined it is okay to do this.


Driving is prohibited after shoulder replacement surgery until cleared by the surgeon. Once patients are cleared to drive, they must not do so while they are still taking prescription pain medication.

Physical Therapy Rehabilitation for Shoulder Replacement

One week after shoulder replacement surgery, the sutures can be removed, and an x-ray will be taken to ensure proper alignment of the prosthetic implants. At this point, patients will begin a physical therapy rehabilitation program to decrease pain and improve range of motion in the shoulder, gradually progressing to resistance and strengthening exercises. Within a few months of surgery, any pain remaining from the surgery should be mostly or completely resolved.

Most patients achieve full range of motion in their shoulder a short few months after surgery, if they have adhered to the physical therapy rehabilitation regimen recommended by the surgeon and physical therapist. This involves performing exercises several times a day at home, as well as formal guided physical therapy in a clinic. Patients who wish to return to a more active lifestyle may require additional, activity-directed physical therapy to reach their final goals.

Contact a Los Angeles Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon

The Joint Surgery Center of Excellence houses a team of highly skilled orthopedic surgeons specializing in shoulder replacement surgery. Our expert shoulder surgeons are trained in the most advanced shoulder replacement procedures and are leaders in the field of joint preservation. The unparalleled technical expertise of our surgeons, combined with our state-of-the-art outpatient facility in Los Angeles, both help ensure the best results and optimal recovery for our patients.

For more information on shoulder joint rehabilitation or to schedule a consultation with one of our renowned orthopedic surgeons, please contact us at (888) 318-2842.

Next, read frequently asked questions about joint surgery.