The Shoulder and Elbow Restoration Center
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Return to Work After Shoulder Surgery

If your shoulder surgery involves having a repair performed (e.g., superior labral repair, rotator cuff repair, etc.), you will have a sling on for up to four to six weeks following surgery. As long as you can abide by the restrictions, you can return to work when you feel like you can do so safely. However, you will need to take into consideration driving and activities related to your job. The sling will need to be worn essentially all day during this postoperative protection phase, but you can safely loosen the sling or take it off and have your elbow comfortably in your lap for short periods of time (i.e., keyboarding, writing with elbow close to side, or similar "safe/gentle" activities). Please expect that you will not be able to work with the arm away from the body, above shoulder level, or really use the arm against gravity until after six to eight weeks postoperatively. Please note that there may be modifications related to these recommendations depending upon what exactly was repaired during surgery.

If your surgery does NOT involve a repair (e.g., subacromial decompression, distal clavicle excision, biceps release, capsular release, etc.), then you will be in a sling only for a few days after surgery and, when comfortable, you can return to work when ready to conduct normal activities of your job. Remember that you will likely be on some mild narcotic pain medications postoperatively and these should be discontinued before you return to work or drive. You will likely only be limited by your own level of discomfort with the activities required of your job. Please allow four or more weeks, however, for heavier lifting and physical labor, etc. Please note that there may be modifications related to these recommendations depending upon what exactly was treated during surgery.


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