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Preparation for Shoulder Surgery: Are You Ready For Recovery?

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21 Nov 2023
Preparation for shoulder surgery: a bouquet of flowers next to a hospital bed

Shoulder surgery, no matter how severe, requires careful preparation. If you’re someone who likes to be ready for anything, there might be a few things you want to prepare in the weeks leading up to the surgery.

For some, preparation for shoulder surgery means getting ready for being out of action for a few weeks, for others it involves making sure loved ones know that you might need extra help for a few days. 

We asked some friends who have recently undergone surgeries of varying severities to share some top tips for those exploring how to prepare for shoulder surgery.

Tip #1: Listen To Your Orthopedic Surgeon


Preparation for shoulder surgery: an older woman talking with her clinician

The journey of preparing for shoulder surgery begins with a consultation with your orthopedic surgeon.

It’s during this appointment that you'll be able to discuss the specifics of the surgery and better understand what you can expect from your physical recovery

It’s important to try and plan for the longer end of this predicted recovery period just in case there are any setbacks that mean your recovery period is longer than expected.

Tip #2: Pay Attention During Preoperative Evaluations


Preparation for shoulder surgery: a series of medications on top of a notepad with the letters RX

Before the surgery, your medical team will conduct a few evaluations. These can include blood tests and X-rays. Your surgeon will also review your medications and provide guidance about any adjustments that may be necessary before the surgery.

You will want to be sure you have enough of any essential medications before your surgery because you will likely not be able to drive for at least the first couple of weeks, even if it’s a speedy recovery

Tip #3: Prepare Loved Ones for Post-Surgery Assistance


Preparation for shoulder surgery: a close up of two women holding hands, seemingly in a gesture of support

Recovery after shoulder surgery quite often involves limited mobility as well as some discomfort. It's essential to plan for assistance from loved ones or caregivers if you need it.

Our friend who recently underwent surgery described just how surprised they were about limitations with daily chores. You might need assistance with previously simple tasks like meal preparation, transportation, and even things like washing dishes.

There’s also the added bonus of giving your loved ones extra time to find you the perfect recovery gift to lift your spirits.

Read our guide for caregivers on providing support after surgery.

Tip #4: Make Adjustments Pre-Surgery 

Springrose's shoulder surgery bra being held up by two hands

In the weeks leading up to the surgery, it’s important to begin your preparations.

Some changes will be essential for making sure your recovery is as smooth as possible and some might be quality of life changes.

One tip we heard often was to try pre-cooking a few meals and freezing them so you always have some meals on hand for when you’re experiencing discomfort or fatigue.

Many underestimate just how difficult it is to get dressed independently following shoulder surgery. A good way to prepare is to buy an adaptive front-fastening bra that can be secured with one arm. This will give you privacy and make sure that you are not over-stretching or straining the problem shoulder.

Read our guide on fastening a bra with one arm following shoulder surgery.

Tip #5: Get Cozy 

 Preparation for shoulder surgery: image of a disheveled but comfortable looking bed with a laptop, coffee, and croissant

Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of recovery is that you need to rest afterwards to make sure you don’t reinjure the shoulder or prevent a full recovery.

Before the surgery, try to make your home as comfortable and accommodating as possible for your post-operative recovery. This might involve rearranging your living space to minimize the need for reaching or stretching, it might mean creating a clear and safe pathway within your home, or it might mean simply stocking up on essential supplies.

Tip #6: Mental and Emotional Preparation

Preparation for shoulder surgery is not only a physical challenge, it also requires some mental and emotional readiness. 

It's normal to experience a range of emotions before a surgery. It’s important to talk to those around you about your worries so that they can help you to prepare. Talking to a therapist is also encouraged, if you're able to afford it or have someone you've been with already. 

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