Returning to Sports After Shoulder Surgery: What You Need to Know

Returning to Sports After Shoulder Surgery: What You Need to Know

Returning to sports after undergoing shoulder surgery is a high priority for most athletes, regardless of the sport you play. 

But you need to be prepared for downtime and avoid pushing things too fast during recovery and reconditioning. A re-injury could keep you benched for even longer. 

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, our experienced orthopedic surgeons have the same goal you do: to get you back to your preferred level of competitive activity as smoothly and swiftly as possible. That means allowing time for recovery after your shoulder surgery.

Typical recovery time after shoulder surgery

Most orthopedists agree that you can expect to return to playing sports around six months from the date of your shoulder surgery. It all depends on the severity of your injury, what your surgery entails, how well your body heals, and what sport you play. 

Some of our patients are able to go back to the sports they love in as little as eight weeks, while others may need a year of recovery time. 

One study showed that MLB players were the slowest to return to the field and had the shortest postoperative careers, while NBA players returned more quickly and played for longer after having shoulder surgery. 

NHL and NFL players typically had a falling off in performance their first year back, but by the second postoperative season, they had returned to their former level of competitive play. 

Improving your chances of full recovery

Your recovery time and success depend in large part on whether you listen to your doctor and follow instructions. If your coach and doctor disagree, listening to your doctor is the right choice.

Driving yourself too hard or pushing through the pain puts you at risk for a more serious injury and possibly ending your ability to play your sport at all. 

Typically, we ask our shoulder surgery patients to keep the shoulder immobilized outside of physical therapy for the first four weeks. We can fit you with a sling to help you prevent inadvertent damage to your shoulder while it heals. 

Follow our recommendations for rest and limited motion to the letter.

Physical therapy can help you regain a broader range of motion and build strength in the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint. It’s important to keep up your rehabilitation routine consistently to help your shoulder joint heal properly. 

If you experience pain, contact us right away to discuss if you need to switch your rehab regimen or explore pain management options.  

Have you undergone shoulder surgery and want to know if you can return to sports? Contact our location nearest you or book an appointment online today. We have locations in Atlanta, Marietta, and Watkinsville, Georgia.

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