Having your arm in a sling can make it hard to get dressed, sleep at night, or even just be comfortable throughout the day. Any of these conditions can limit how you get through the day!
✔️ Broken Arm
✔️ Fractured Bone
✔️ Post Surgery Recovery
✔️ Rotator Cuff Injury
✔️ Shoulder Dislocation
✔️ Arm Immobility
Video Blogs of My Recovery
Having rotator cuff shoulder surgery means being without the use of an arm for several weeks. Preparing ahead of time can make life easier. I produced several videos in which I detailed my recovery at week one, 11 days and 18 days post surgery.
Part 1: https://youtu.be/SE95PG-13s4
Part 2: https://youtu.be/HkrDe0wcQg8
Part 3: https://youtu.be/2_uY3_UdyOg
Here is the link to nutritious, easy to prep and minimal prep meal ideas that I refer to in the videos: https://bit.ly/2n0JHIC
I emphasize information that will be helpful to you as you prepare for your surgery so that you will know more about what to expect at home and what to purchase and do ahead of time to make your life easier.
And keep scrolling to the end where I also have videos explaining what not to do after surgery and how to live with a sling.
Recommended Products for Post Rotator Cuff Surgery
After having rotator cuff surgery, I discovered the products that make my one-armed life easier. I have put together a list for you of must-have post surgery items you might consider. To save you time and effort, I researched the best products on selected Amazon Choice or Top Sellers where I could.
I have also a list of resources that I found helpful so I have linked them below under the shopping items. So keep scrolling!
Foam Wedge to incline your upper body can help you get in a comfortable resting and sleeping position.
For physical therapy, you will need a moist heat pack to put on your shoulder before exercises. I LOVE this one. It drapes perfectly and comfortably on my shoulders and warms the area to loosen your muscles and get them ready for stretching and mobility exercises.
I did not have an ice machine and regret it! Definitely get an ice machine because you will icing a lot! This one gets great reviews and has a programable timer:
Icing is very important for the first week or two after surgery. While the post-op dressing is in place, icing/cooling machine should be performed as frequently as possible. My doctor told me (you check with yours) that “Once the dressing is removed (after 48-72 hours), apply ice for 20-minute periods 3-4 times per day or as much as tolerated.”
You will rely on lots and lots of icing your shoulder during your first few weeks post surgery for pain relief. 20 minutes of ice before I went to sleep was the secret to falling asleep comfortable.
My physical therapist uses these ice packs so I bought one for home. They are flexible and you can conform them around your shoulder. Put it inside a pillow case before use to make it more comfortable. Choose between two sizes. I am a small woman and feel that the 11 x 14 that I bought is a bit large.
This shoulder pulley may be used in your physical therapy at home to improve the range of motion for your shoulder. Ask your doctor if you’ll need it.
You won’t be able to pull up your pants with only one arm. An easy to slip-on elastic bodice dress makes it easier to get dressed. The pink one comes in a variety of colors.
Keep in mind you won’t have two hands to use to pull up your pants. And you will want to be comfie as you recover from your surgery. I practically lived in these grey elastic waist, loose fitting, women’s no waist tie Under Armour pant. If you want something other than an athletic pant, consider these wide leg lounge pants with a high elastic waist that come in a variety of colors.
And slip on pants for men work well.
Getting dressed is difficult with one arm in a sling. To make it easier, wear over sized tops. I spent most of my time in my son’s t-shirts and loved this shawl wrap front cardigan to wrap around me.
This is an awesome post shoulder surgery shirt for women. The snaps open up the shirt to allow for easy on and off.
Ladies, getting a bra on and off with one arm is next to impossible. This post-surgery Front Closure Bra zips in the front which is easier to use than some of the other post-surgery bras that use eye closures.
This is an awesome post shoulder surgery shirt for both men and women. The snaps open up the shirt to allow for easy on and off.
There are many options for men’s post-surgery shirts. These have snaps on the sides. Here are some choices:
Slip-on shoes. I have several but found the Skechers the easiest to get on by myself. And for men, these Bruno Marc shoes are great.
You will need some way to have your laptop on your lap and this laptop pillow desk is #1 on Amazon and for a reason! It is adjustable to 8 different angles for easy use. You can set it on the medical bedside table too.
I kept this medical bedside table beside my bed or recliner stocked with meds, snacks, water, pen, and paper. It slid easily under my bed so I could get some work or reading done using the tilting table.
Showering with one arm is difficult. Get a Foaming Shower Soap that is easy to rinse quickly. I have a single friend that bought a detachable shower head that made it easier to keep her incision dry. And if you think you might be unsteady in the shower, get a shower chair. Also, have some Waterproof Shower Bandages to keep the wound sites dry.
Long Handled Shower Brush to wash your back.
This pressure cane is to work out tight areas in the back and shoulders and will be used for range of motion in physical therapy.
You will struggle to put your surgical arm in a comfortable position. I happened to have had this travel pillow before surgery and am so glad I did. It contorts into different shapes defending on where I needed it.
Keep these non-perishable snacks handy to eat when you take your medication. They do not need refrigeration so they are perfect for keeping on your bedside table for middle of the night meds.
Use Aquaphor to aid healing and prevent scarring. The first line of defense is to keep the wound clean, moist, and covered in the early days and weeks of healing. Keep the wound hydrated with Aquaphor, as this promotes faster healing. Apply three times daily for 1 to 3 weeks to maintain wound bed moisture.
3 Month Post Surgery Update: My wounds healed really well! My doctor was even impressed with how invisible they are. I used the Aquaphor twice a day for 10 weeks.
Aquaphor Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21247665
The sling I was sent home with from the hospital was crummy. This one is so much better. The third an abduction pad. Ask your doctor which one is best for you and the surgery you had. Another tip, choose one with a thin waist belt. The one I was sent home from the hospital had a thick belt and bothered me as I layed on it.
My doctor wanted me to take a combo of Oxycodone, Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen after my rotator cuff surgery. This a great price for Ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Laxative. Being on pain pills can lengthen the amount of time it takes stool to pass through your gastrointestinal system. After three days the prescription laxative was not working so my doctor recommended the addition of Senna for natural relief.
Ladies! An epilator is a must! It is difficult to shave your legs with only one arm but easy to do with an epilator. I have been using one for years and love mine. And no! It doesn’t hurt. It gently plucks out the hair and leaves legs smooth for weeks.
This talks about how to prevent a failed surgery: https://bit.ly/2LUukv5
This page gives directions for some of the physical therapy exercises you might be prescribed: https://bostonshoulderinstitute.com/for-professionals/physical-therapy-videos/arthroscopic-rotator-cuff-repair-exercises/
Physical Therapy First Six Weeks (be sure to do what YOUR Physical Therapist says as each person has different needs)
Physical therapy video of some 7-12 week Phase 2 exercises: