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Return to Work Information

Return to Work After Knee Surgery

If you are having a reconstruction or a repair performed (i.e., ACL reconstruction, meniscus repair, cartilage transplant or other larger procedure), you might have a hinged brace on for four to six weeks after surgery. Your weight bearing will be adjusted in accordance with the procedure you had performed. You may be asked by Dr. Cole to protect your weight bearing for upwards of four to six weeks. During this time you will have two crutches in addition to the brace. Remember that you will likely be on some mild narcotic pain medications postoperatively and these should be discontinued before you return to work or drive. Please note that adjustments may need to be made at work accordingly. Simple adjustments such as a second chair to put your surgical leg on, availability of ice packs, and other “comfort items” can make a significant difference. It is reasonable to return to work safely when you feel like you can do so, as long as you are compliant with the brace recommendations and weight bearing restrictions provided to you by Dr. Cole after surgery.

After simpler knee surgeries such as knee arthroscopy with meniscectomy, cartilage debridement, etc., it is safe to return to work and be full weight bearing when you can tolerate doing so. You are then only going to be limited by your own soreness, stiffness, and discomfort. Please consider that for physical activities such as squatting, kneeling, climbing, and heavy lifting, you should likely plan to allow for four or more weeks of recovery before returning to these type of activities. If at any point you have questions regarding your return to work processes and postoperative activities, email Dr. Cole’s PA at [javascript protected email address].

Return to Work After Shoulder Surgery

If your shoulder surgery involves having a repair performed (e.g., superior labral repair, rotator cuff repair, etc.), you will have a sling on for up to four to six weeks following surgery. As long as you can abide by the restrictions, you can return to work when you feel like you can do so safely. However, you will need to take into consideration driving and activities related to your job. The sling will need to be worn essentially all day during this postoperative protection phase, but you can safely loosen the sling or take it off and have your elbow comfortably in your lap for short periods of time (i.e., keyboarding, writing with elbow close to side, or similar “safe/gentle” activities). Please expect that you will not be able to work with the arm away from the body, above shoulder level, or really use the arm against gravity until after six to eight weeks postoperatively. Please note that there may be modifications related to these recommendations depending upon what exactly was repaired during surgery.

If your surgery does NOT involve a repair (e.g., subacromial decompression, distal clavicle excision, biceps release, capsular release, etc.), then you will be in a sling only for a few days after surgery and, when comfortable, you can return to work when ready to conduct normal activities of your job. Remember that you will likely be on some mild narcotic pain medications postoperatively and these should be discontinued before you return to work or drive. You will likely only be limited by your own level of discomfort with the activities required of your job. Please allow four or more weeks, however, for heavier lifting and physical labor, etc. Please note that there may be modifications related to these recommendations depending upon what exactly was treated during surgery.

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