When Can I work again after shoulder surgery?

When Can I work again after shoulder surgery?

Getting back to work after shoulder surgery is a major concern for working individuals. Financial constraints and workload responsibilities can both create anxiety about time off. The answer on return to work very much depends on the type of shoulder surgery. I make every effort to understand each person’s occupation and provide a plan for return to work in advance so one
can prepare.

Those that do desk work can return as soon as they want. Generally, I advise people take a week off work at least to focus on recovery. I’ve seen plenty of people return the day after surgery, but I believe it is best to give time for the body to focus its energy on healing.

For those that do lifting as part of their job lifting of 2-5 lbs is allowed until one is out of a sling and then advancement proceeds up based on the type of surgery. In very heavy demand work it can be approximately 6 months to full return, but in most cases accommodation can be made for an earlier return with modified duties (lifting restrictions).

Driving is an important part of work of course and can be safely done at 2 weeks after surgery while still in a sling based on a published study.

Some tips for returning to work as quickly as possible include:

  • Limit narcotic pain medications like Vicodin and Oxycodone. These slow down your
  • physical and mental recovery. Use ice and Tylenol and Ibuprofen as much as possible
  • over narcotics. Narcotics are also highly addictive.
  • Stay moving. Early walking and stationary bike will help stimulate your muscles and
  • improve recovery
  • Consume a high protein diet. A load of evidence indicates that high protein intake,
  • especially high in Leucine, limits muscle breakdown and speeds recovery. An example of
  • one supplement can be found here: https://www.completesurgicalnutrition.com/
  • Get ample sleep. Adequate sleep is important to surgical recovery. This can be difficult
  • while in a sling. I like the use a wedge pillow for comfort. Be sure to keep lights low and
  • avoid stimulation like TV for 1-2 hours prior to bed. If needed, try Melatonin and use prescription medications as a last resort.