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FAQ after shoulder operations
How soon can I drive a car?
I have permitted patients to drive a car when they no longer need a supportive sling and there is sufficient movement and control in the glenohumeral joint. Before that, you CANNOT drive. The repairs and attachments performed on the glenohumeral joint take time to heal in a relaxed position and for this reason the sling must be worn. Another important perspective relates to traffic safety: the ability to control a vehicle must be at a normal level.
When can I go to the sauna and swimming?
You can go to the sauna and swimming once the stitches have been removed. The reason for this is due to the risk of bacterial infection. There is an immense amount of bacteria on the skin and in sweat, and bacteria may be transferred in running sweat under the skin through the stitches. Furthermore, the water in pools and other places to swim may be impure.
When can I start doing sports?
It depends on the sport. You can start playing chess immediately. For example, in sports surgery, there is a three-month recovery period. I abide by this rule in glenohumeral joint surgery as well. After most operations, a three-month recovery period is necessary before you can start training in your sport. Of course, more time is needed to recover before you can compete or participate in games. After most glenohumeral joint operations, I usually advise the patient to avoid hanging, shot put, javelin throw, etc. for six months. The repaired tissue needs sufficient time to heal and become stronger.
How long do I need to be on sick leave?
The length of sick leave depends on the type of job you do. Office work can often be done as soon as one month after an operation. The period of sick leave is often three months in jobs requiring strength in your upper limbs, such as farming or sheet metal work.
Arthroscopic operations and the techniques used in them have developed very quickly in the past years. Tissue damage is clearly visible and enlarged on a screen during the operation. Arthroscopic instruments and cameras make it possible to see much more that would not be noticed in open surgery. Arthroscopies are precise and neat; the surgeon does not have to remove muscles to get to the area where the operation has to be performed. Therefore, recovery is quicker. There is no need for a shoulder brace after an arthroscopy – a removable supportive sling is sufficient.
Recovering from a shoulder operation and limitations on movement
Limitations on using your shoulder and using a supportive sling are associated with the recovery time of the tendon, which is in our genes. There are really no limitations on using your shoulder after acromioplasty, because the procedure does not involve suturing or fastening tendons or tissue. It is merely a question of expansion and smoothing the edge of the bone.
After suturing the tendon of the rotator cuff, it takes 6 weeks before the tendon has any pulling strength. Until then, the stitches keep the tissue edges in place to allow them to heal properly. A stitched incision in the skin heals in exactly the same way. The skin merely heals considerably quicker. In approximately 4 weeks, the tendon has healed to the extent where the supportive sling can be removed and the patient can begin to carefully move his/her upper arm. After 6 weeks, the patient may freely move his/her upper arm. If the patient begins to use his/her upper arm too soon, the tendon may tear again. It is usually a question of the tendon material cutting through the stitch loops. The so-called bone anchors and threads are extremely strong so it is often the tissue that gives in. For this reason, abiding by the given instructions and restrictions on use is important.