How Long Does Recovery Take After Dislocation and Subluxation Repairs?

After surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder, most patients will be required to follow steps similar to conservative pre-op treatment. Following their discharge from the hospital, patients will have their shoulder immobilized in a sling between 2-6 weeks, allowing the joint to heal without lifting heavy weights. 

Pain relief drugs, applying ice, and therapeutic massage may be recommended to alleviate painful symptoms. Patience and limiting arm movements prevent repeated dislocations that would require further interventions.

8-10 days after surgery, the operating physician will usually schedule a follow-up check to ensure that the shoulder is healing properly. At this point, he may also determine when physical therapy should begin and include exercises designed to improve the joint's mobility and strength like:

  • Shoulder flexors
  • Shoulder extensors
  • Shoulder abductors
  • Pendulum exercises

Individuals with an office job or similar sedentary occupations may return to work after 1-2 weeks following surgery. Occupations requiring light manual labor may be resumed after 3-4 weeks, and patients can begin driving again after 4-6 weeks

Athletes should consult their surgeon to receive clearance to return to their sport. While activities like swimming or golf can be resumed after about 6 weeks, high-impact sports like football, volley, or hockey may require a more extended recovery period of several months

A full recovery and return to sport at pre-injury activity levels may take up to a year; however, the outlook for recovery after surgery is generally positive, with a low rate of reinjures.