Clothing for Shoulder Surgery and Other Tips

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I recently underwent orthoscopic rotator cuff surgery and the first thing that came to mind was what type of clothing should I need. Here's an easy and inexpensive way to create a type of clothing that is simple to make and very accommodating for wearing home from the hospital, to the physical therapy sessions and follow up visit with your surgeon.



Buy men's largest size color tee shirts four in a pack. Modify directions according to the right or left shoulder. With scissors cut across the top of sleeve from neckline across the full straight length of sleeve. Using strips of velcro, sew to cut edges from neckline to shoulder hem leaving remainder of sleeve open to allow tee shirt to slide up and over arm and shoulder. The brace will be put on over the tee shirt. When the velcro is added, be sure that the smoothest strip piece is attached to the underside of front top while the rougher velcro is sewn to the top of back side, so that it will be pulled open easily with the good hand pulling downward toward the front, otherwise you will find pulling toward the back is more difficult when needed to open for removal. Your head goes through that same large space, but only after the injured arm is put through first and then you can put the good arm through last. When you remove the shirt, slip the good arm out first, your head and then slide off the wounded shoulder/arm.

Make a few of these quick and easy shirts in advance and be sure to take one with you to wear home the day of surgery. Also, wear a pair of loose fitting elastic waist slacks. They are easiest to pull up/down. You will have help getting dressed and no bras will be worn home or anytime soon thereafter unless you can wear a strapless bra that fastens from the front.

At Home

While home recuperating, I chose to wear stretchy night gowns for comfort and for more accessible bathroom use. Make it easy on yourself. Buy a few large quantity wet wipes packs or a bidet that fastens to the rim of toilet bowl. This item only works if you are having left shoulder done as plumbing fixtures are on right side making it difficult to operate without assistance.

If you are having surgery performed in winter, then have a soft fluffy throw to cover up with and keep warm. An electric ice/water cold pack unit works great for relieving pain, minimizing swelling and encourages healing, and may have you using less pain medication as it did me, but it will make you feel chilly as the coldness runs through the shoulder pad. You will need to use it constantly the first week or two which is the roughest, so be sure to have plenty of ice available and a couple of folded cotton hand towels to place against your shoulder before the placement of the cold pad is used.

Household Chores

Talk over with your spouse things that will need done and learn early on what he/she feels comfortable or uncomfortable about regarding your care. Then think about those more challenging needs to see if you can come up with an idea or two that might alleviate any stress over it. The way I worked through this was using my left hand to find out what could or could not be done and then informed my husband what he would need to do and the whole became less of a guessing game.

If you are the chef/cook have plenty of food made up in advance that can be microwaved or heated in the oven. You'll be glad you did not overlook doing this as it was so much easier for my husband to warm up for us. A crock pot of chili, vegetable soup, soup beans for example stretched for a few days giving us a rest from all the stress and helped to focus on the changes required each day.

Caring for Yourself

You'll be advised to sleep in a recliner chair for a few weeks. For me, the chair could not be put in reclining position as my surgery was on the right side and so was the chair's raising/reclining mechanism. Get a hassock you can scoot away from the chair when you must get up and give your spouse an uninterrupted sleep, so he can feel more refreshed and alert to meeting the daily challenges ahead.

When showering, set a stool in there and if you have a hand held shower attachment, that comes in very handy as standing time tolerance is short and you may feel the back ache standing too long. It makes washing hair easier to do also and rinsing lower area better.

You'll also need a couple boxes of waterproof band aids to put on the surgical stitches areas prior to bathing when the time comes you can shower that area. Place them in a vertical position on arm as it makes it easier for you to help remove versus horizontal. Apply peroxide on cloth pads to gently wipe over all surgery area and let dry before placing regular band aids over each wound site. This is a once a day procedure until you have a visit with your doctor or his staff who will remove stitches and put a tape band over each wound which ends having to change band aids daily.

You are not going to be able to do everything around the house, so worry less how the house might look and enjoy your favorite tv shows, movies, books, puzzles,and visitors and napping while you are recuperating. For myself, our home was thoroughly cleaned before the surgery date and having R & R time was necessary afterward and no guilt trip experienced.

I hope whoever reads this and is in need of such surgery or knows someone who does, you will share these friendly helpful tips and ideas.

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January 14, 20162 found this helpful

Thank you for posting these hints, very helpful.

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January 19, 20161 found this helpful

You are welcome.

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January 19, 20161 found this helpful

Well thought-through and extremely helpful tips. But how did you get so much done before surgery - weren't you in pain then?


Also husbands needn't be catered for quite so much - they CAN learn to cook and not be so helpless!

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January 28, 20162 found this helpful

My husband fixed me eggs and toast with hot tea for breakfast, but he's not much of a cook as one who prefers making a bed, changing the sheets or vacuuming which are both very helpful and need doing. I had several weeks to prepare for this surgery and think about things. I spent a few days working around the house using my left hand to learn what I could not do for myself. My husband is 79 and too much of a change can be overwhelming and I just wanted less stress put on both of us since this was not going to be a quick recovery period.

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April 18, 20160 found this helpful

I'm sorry to hear that you needed surgery and hope that you're recuperating well. I didn't need surgery for my broken shoulder but I was in an immobilization sling for 9 weeks and I learned to adapt albeit the hard way through experience.


I recently posted an article that gave tips for living with a broken shoulder and many of the tips would serve well I think following a shoulder surgery.

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April 20, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you so much for sharing these ideas. My hubby went thru that shoulder surgery and it really was challenging post op. You are spot on with your hints.

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December 28, 20171 found this helpful

After having gone through surgery once, I'm now making ready for the left shoulder. I realized wearing a strapless bras was most difficult and came up with a tube stretch fabric for pregnancies that women wore around their midsection. Thank goodness I decided to try it out and learn that by putting feet in first and having help with pulling it up and over hips and around chest area, this item works great. It doesn't slip down, but covers well and is very deep allowing plenty of room for coverup and it's most comfortable with no seams.


It is going to work perfectly when going to physical therapy and doctor visits making you feel better out in public when necessary. I bought mine at Walmart in the women's underwear dept. A little thing like this makes such a difference in being as modest as possible. Wish I'd thought of this idea first time around.

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December 28, 20170 found this helpful

I wish to add to my post about rotator cuff surgery. I am due for the same procedure for my left shoulder and while searching for a strapless bra for a busty size, I found none large enough that would work for me and then all alone on the shelf was a black stretchy fabric used for pregnant women to fit around their middle. I thought of using this and when opening the package, there was my answer to meet the need. The seamless stretchy tube material was perfect. Slipping feet in first and getting help in pulling it up over hips and around chest, the fabric stays in place, is quite deep to cover well and is sooo comfortable.


It will dry quickly after washing and serves as a very modest covering under the altered roomy T shirt w open sleeve and wear when going to therapy and visiting the doctor. I wanted to share this idea with others because it has been a problem in the past for me and now it is resolved with this inexpensive covering found in Walmart's underwear dept.

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December 28, 20170 found this helpful

I wish to add to my tip about wearing a strapless bra after surgery. I found it difficult/expensive to buy for a busty chest, so while searching at Walmart at a second attempt to buy comfortable coverage, I spied on the shelf a dark colored stretch tube fabric for pregnant women to wear over their middle. I bought the item and tried it out when home and found it to be exactly what I needed for fuller coverage, stays in place, is seamless, and stretchy enough to be most comfortable.


Just slip feet in and pull it up over hips and around chest. It works great when going to P.T. and doctor visits after rotator cuff surgery and when wearing the open sleeve roomy altered tee shirt for these needs. It's also less costly than a strapless bra and can be found at Walmart's underwear dept. You will need help putting this on and off.

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October 18, 20191 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing your tips, I for one appreciate this as my surgery is next week & I particularly love the tee shirt idea & will definitely be doing this! Thank you again, cheers

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