The recovery time for shoulder surgery is between one and six months, according to MedlinePlus. Patients start physical therapy six to eight weeks after surgery to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion, reports WebMD.
To reduce pain and discomfort after should surgery, patients use ice packs in conjunction with prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Sugeons, or AAOS. Patients sometimes also have to wear a sling during the first week of recovery, reports MedlinePlus. After the first week, patients remove large bandages and apply smaller ones, claims the AAOS.
Depending on the level of pain and discomfort, patients return to work or participate in other activities after the first week of recovery, according to MedlinePlus. It is important to proceed carefully so as not to stress the joint. Depending on the extent of the shoulder surgery, patients are typically able to participate in sports and drive a vehicle within a few months after surgery.
An important part of the recovery process, physical therapy includes stretching and weight training, reports WebMD. Over time, physical therapy reduces stiffness and pain as the patient's shoulder heals. However, patients sometimes experience minor pain or some shoulder weakness after recovering from shoulder surgery, states the AAOS.