Discharge Instructions after Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

The discharge instructions after Total Shoulder Arthroplasty:

  • A sling has been provided for you.  Remove the sling 5 times each day to perform motion exercises.
  • Use ice on the shoulder intermittently for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Pain medication has been prescribed for you.
  • Use your medication liberally over the first 48 hours, and then begin to taper your use.  You may take Extra Strength Tylenol or Tylenol only in place of the pain pills.  DO NOT take ANY nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications:  Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Naproxen, or Naprosyn.
  • You may remove your dressing after two days if it is dry you can leave open to air.
  • You may shower 4 days after surgery.  The incision CANNOT get wet prior to 4 days.  Simply allow the water to wash over the site and then pat dry.  Do not rub the incision.  Make sure your axilla (armpit) is completely dry after showering.
  • Aspirin has been prescribed to prevent blood clots.  Take one tablet twice a day.  If Coumadin, Warfarin or another blood thinner is prescribed for blood clot prevention, take this medication as directed by your medical clearance physician.  DO NOT TAKE ANOTHER BLOOD THINNER AND ASPIRIN.
  • Active reaching and lifting are not permitted.  You may use the operative arm for activities of daily living that do not require the operative arm to leave the side of the body, such as eating, drinking, bathing, etc.
  • 3 to 5 times each day you should perform assisted overhead reaching and external rotation (outward turning) exercises with the operative arm.  You were taught these exercises prior to discharge.  Both exercises should be done with the non-operative arm used as the “therapist arm” while the operative arm remains relaxed.  Ten of each exercise should be done three to five times each day.

Overhead reach is helping to lift your stiff arm up as high as it will go.  To stretch your overhead reach, lie flat on your back, relax, and grasp the wrist of the tight shoulder with your opposite hand.  Using the power in your opposite arm, bring the stiff arm up as far as it is comfortable.  Start holding it for ten seconds and then work up to where you can hold it for a count of 30.  Breathe slowly and deeply while the arm is moved.  Repeat this stretch ten times, trying to help the arm up a little higher each time.

External rotation is turning the arm out to the side while your elbow stays close to your body.  External rotation is best stretched while you are lying on your back.  Hold a cane, yardstick, broom handle, or dowel in both hands.  Bend both elbows to a right angle.  Use steady, gentle force from your normal arm to rotate the hand of the stiff shoulder out away from your body.  Continue the rotation as far as it will go comfortably, holding it there for a count of 10.  Repeat this exercise ten times.

Please call 216-844-0209 for any problems.

Including the following:

  • excessive redness of the Incisions
  • drainage for more than 4 days
  • fever of more than 101.5 F

Please call 216-844-0209 to make a follow-up appointment if one has not already been made. You should see the doctor 10-14 days after your surgery.

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