Tips for Self-Care

Note: it is important to maintain shoulder precautions during self-care activities to avoid dislocation.

In general

  • After the surgery, you may put on your clothing under the shoulder immobilizer unless your surgeon specifies that you must have the immobilizer on at all time.
  • You can use regular clothing: pullovers or front opening shirts.
  • You may continue to use bra. This will not affect the surgery site.
  • If you are unable to reach down to put on shoes, socks or pants, your occupational therapist may be able to recommend adaptive equipment to assist you such as a reacher, sock aid, long-handle shoe horn, and elastic shoe laces.


  • Remove clothing from your unaffected arm first.
  • Use your unaffected arm to remove clothing from the side on which you had shoulder surgery.

Putting on Clothing

  • Put the sleeve on your affected arm first, using your good arm.
  • Make sure to pull your sleeve up as far as possible on surgical arm.
  • Next, put the unaffected arm into its sleeve.
  • Adjust clothing as needed.

Using the Toilet

  • If you have a difficult time reaching your bottom to clean yourself after using the toilet, you should use a toileting aid.
  • Check with your occupational therapist for equipment recomendations.


  • You may shower after 72 hours after surgery. You should not, however, soak your wound.
  • Take off the shoulder immobilizer per instructions.
  • Continue following shoulder precautions while your sling is off.
  • Cover the incision site with plastic wrap taped into place to prevent incision and dressing from getting wet prior to the first follow-up visit with your surgeon. If your dressing becomes wet, remove it and replace it with a clean, dry dressing.
  • After your staples/sutures have been removed (usually at the first follow-up appointment), you may shower without covering the incision. You should not, however, soak in a bath tub, hot tub, pool, etc., for the first month.
  • Only use the unaffected arm for lathering.
  • Keep the surgical arm at your side.
  • If you need help, we recommend that you have a caregiver or family member assist you. AC Joint Arthritis and Total Shoulder Replacement Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
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