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When your orthopaedic surgeon says it’s time for shoulder surgery, you could be facing a minimally invasive procedure or a full joint surgery. Whether you’re expecting to be down for a few weeks or a few months, here are six things you should know so you can prepare for your recovery!

  1. It’s OK – in some cases mandatory – to take time off.

Your doctor can give you an approximate time range you’ll need to be off work and absent form athletics or sports activities. Your body will need some time to get over the experience of surgery. How much time will depend on the type of surgery and your overall health.

  1. The simplest tasks will seem hard for a bit. Plan ahead.

A shower head you can detach from the wall and use by hand will help you during the showering process; you can direct the spray and avoid wetting any bandages or straining to rinse under your arms. Tip: Invest in a few pump bottles for soap, body wash, and shampoo to make one handed dispensing a snap.

  1. Have several recovery spots planned.

Count on at least two spots in your home you can relax on – like the bed and the couch. Have two sets of pillows and blankets so you don’t have to lug your comfort supplies back and forth. Tip: You cannot have too many pillows.

  1.    Take your pain medication as directed. No skipping or double dosing!

It can be tempting to skip a dose of pain medication if you are feeling good. However, once the pain hits, trying to ramp it back down is difficult. For at least the first few days, take medication strictly on the scheduled prescribed. If you miss a dose, don’t double up, and don’t take more than prescribed. Tip: Ask your doctor about alternative pain management therapies.

  1.    Easy meals on hand will keep you nutritionally fortified during your recovery.

Prepare and freeze nutritious, easy to eat meals which you can thaw and microwave (and eat with one hand!) Also, if people offer to bring you food, say yes. Tip: Have some foods on hand that can help you boost your fiber intake – a common side effect of surgery and medication is constipation.

  1.    Practical and emotional support is a must. Ask for help.

Many tasks are just easier to do with two arms, and some are nearly impossible with just one.  While your shoulder is healing, get other people to help out around the house, and drive you to and from your follow up appointments. Tip: Being isolated can also cause depression, so invite your friends over for game night or a movie.

Being informed and planning ahead can help your recovery time fly by, so you can be back to your routine before you know it!