Worried about how shoulder surgery will impact your work life? For many people time off work equals a loss of income. People wonder when and if they will return to work. With advanced minimally invasive shoulder surgery, for most patients it is not a question of will they be able to return to work, but just a matter of when. Let’s look at how shoulder surgery will impact your work life.
Keep in mind that after surgery, return to work depends on how long you will be in a sling, which can be 1 day to 6 weeks depending on the injury. The main purpose of the sling is to minimize shoulder movement to allow healing. The sling must be on when you are moving around and sleeping. When you are sitting with your arm at your side, you can take the sling off and place your arm on a pillow or cushion mimicking the position it would be in if it were still in the sling. During this time in the sling one can use their hand, wrist, and elbow. This allows self-care, typing, and writing.
You may be on narcotic medications for a few days after pain medications. So, you cannot drive until you have fully weaned off of them. You also cannot do any high-speed driving with your arm in the sling.
Generally, I recommend a week off of work followed by return based on activity demands. Desk/office work can be resumed 1-2 weeks after surgery with limited used of the surgical arm. At the other extreme, unrestricted return to heavy lifting can be limited for up to 6 months after surgery.
In most cases we can get a good idea of each person’s specific timeline prior to surgery. I also do my best to work around job requirements and optimize the return for each person.
Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon. Dr. Denard is committed to providing the highest level of Orthopedic care to his patients. Dr. Denard has advanced arthroscopy training and is able to perform the vast majority of shoulder procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, including all types of rotator cuff repairs and instability repair. These techniques allow him to repair tears that some consider "irreparable." Providing every patient with advanced medicine and compassionate care each and every time.