Group of women doing exercises in water

Preparing for Shoulder Surgery

Adopting a positive attitude and participating actively throughout the process is vital to the success of your surgery. Remaining as active as possible in the time leading up to your surgery may make your recovery easier. Your orthopaedic surgeon may suggest a low impact exercise program to help with your fitness, strength and movement before surgery.

An exercise program may include walking, aqua aerobics, exercise bike or swimming for about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.1

Women doing a doctor consultation on an Ipad

General Health

Before your surgery, you should:​

  • Have a check up with your local doctor
  • Have a check up with your dentist​
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy diet​
  • Try to lose weight if appropriate
  • Look after your skin and fingernails​

Ask your local doctor for advice or treatment if required. Some medications are required to be stopped before surgery and some are withheld on the day of the surgery. It is important to discuss this with your surgeon or anaesthetist before going into hospital. You may also be asked not to schedule urologic or dental procedures (teeth cleaning, cavity repairs, or oral surgery) within one month of your surgery.

Women drinking water in bed

Before you go to hospital

Energy and hydration are important for a quick recovery. Eat well and drink plenty of fluids in the days leading up to your operation. Follow instructions given to you about when to stop eating and drinking on the day of your surgery. You will be told at the pre-admission clinic if and when you need to stop taking any medications before your operation. You will be given instructions on how to wash and dress in preparation for your surgery. These procedures are important to reduce your risk of developing an infection after the operation - please follow them carefully. Tell your team at the hospital if you get an infection or any cuts or abrasions leading up to your surgery date as it may need to be rescheduled.

bathroom with 2 sinks and a toilet

Preparing your home before shoulder

Making your home “recovery friendly” is easy. A good rule of thumb is to think of safety first, and then comfort. Give the bathrooms a close look. For a time after shoulder surgery, patients will have limited flexibility. Consider:​

  • Installing grab bars in the shower, by the tub and next to the toilet for safety and support​
  • Adding a bath/shower seat or transfer bench​
  • Replacing fixed shower heads with hand-held shower heads​
  • Stocking your fridge with items you will need after surgery such as ice packs
Women searching something in her handbag

Getting comfortable

Shop before surgery for things that will make your life easier. Some examples may include:​

  • A long-handled sponge​
  • A grabbing or reaching tool​
  • A footstool​
  • A big-pocket shirt or a soft shoulder bag for carrying things​
  • Select loose-fitting clothing that is easy to put on and remove with one hand
woman packing suitcase

Your hospital bag

We have created a checklist of items you may wish to bring to hospital.​

  • The information kit and any paperwork provided before your surgery​
  • X-rays and scans
  • All medications you take regularly including creams, drops and herbal medicines​
  • Identification, Medicare, concession cards and insurance details​
  • Telephone numbers and names of family, friends and support people who will take you home from the hospital​
  • Short sleeved night-wear, mid length robe, socks and underwear​
  • Loose comfortable day clothes that are suitable for exercising​
  • Current walking aid​
  • Toiletries​
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids and extra batteries​
  • Dentures and containers​
  • Entertainment: books, magazines, music and headphones