Gary W. Gartsman M.D.
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Texas Orthopedic
Hospital

7401 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: (713) 799-2300
info@drgartsman.com

Texas Orthopedic Hospital

Fondren Othopedic Group

Gary W Gartsman MD
Shoulder Pain
Arthroscopic Shoulder Pain

Returning to Work

There are no fixed rules for return to work. The following are reasonable guidelines that will help you and your employers ease your return to the workplace. (Instruction in the proper use of your arm will be given to you before you leave the hospital).

Guidelines vary by procedure:

Returning to work - Rotator cuff

  • For most sedentary jobs, I recommend taking a week off work.
  • When you return to work your arm will be in a sling (for 6 weeks after surgery), but you should be able to manage as long as you do no lifting, pushing, pulling
    or carrying.
  • You are not to raise your arm without help for six weeks after surgery. This allows the tendon to heal in the best possible position.
  • You may begin light duty work involving no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying, within two weeks after surgery; you may work at waist level and lift 5-10 pounds 3-4 months after surgery.
  • Most patients can tolerate occasional work at shoulder level 3-6 months
    after surgery.
  • Return to heavy lifting or overhead use may require 6-12 months.

Returning to work - Labrum tear/glenohumeral joint reconstruction

  • For most sedentary jobs, I recommend taking a week off work.
  • When you return to work your arm will be in a sling (six weeks after surgery) but you should be able to manage as long as you do no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying.
  • Most patients can start light duty work involving no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying more than one to two pounds, 6-8 weeks after surgery.
  • Work at waist level and 5-10 pounds of lifting is started 3-4 months after surgery. You will generally need 3-6 months of recovery before beginning occasional work at shoulder level.
  • Return to heavy lifting or overhead use may require 6-12 months.

Returning to work - Irreparable rotator cuff

  • For most sedentary jobs I recommended two to three days off work.
  • When you return to work your arm will be sore but you should be able to manage as long as you do no heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying.
  • Work at waist level and 5-10 pounds or lifting is started one week after surgery.
  • Heavier lifting and work at or above shoulder level starts three months after surgery.
  • You will generally need 6-12 months before recovery is complete.

Returning to work - Acromioplasty

  • For most sedentary jobs, I recommended two to three days off work.
  • When you return to work your arm will be sore but you should be able to manage as long as you do no heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying.
  • Work at waist level and 5-10 pounds or lifting is started 1 week after surgery.
  • Heavier lifting and work at or above shoulder level starts one to two months
    after surgery.
  • You will generally need 3-6 months before recovery is complete and return to heavy lifting or prolonged overhead use may require 6-12 months.

Returning to work - Contracture

  • For most sedentary jobs, I recommend taking one to two weeks off work.
  • When you return to work you should be able to manage as long as you do not have to do any heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying.
  • Most patients can start light duty work involving no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying more than 10 pounds, one to two weeks after surgery.
  • Return to heavy lifting or overhead use may require 6-12 months.

Returning to work - Shoulder joint arthritis

  • For most sedentary jobs, I recommend taking one to two weeks off work.
  • When you return to work you should be able to manage as long as you do no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying.
  • Most patients can start light duty work involving no lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying more than one to two pounds, two weeks after surgery.
  • Work at waist level and 5-10 pounds of lifting is started two months after surgery.
  • You will generally need three to six months of recovery before beginning occasional work at shoulder level.
  • Return to heavy lifting or overhead use may require 6-12 months.

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