How to dress after shoulder surgery

Updated April 17, 2017

After shoulder surgery, your range of motion will be limited, and doing everyday things such as getting dressed will be challenging. There are certain motions and positions that you will want to avoid completely. Discuss with your doctor--before and after surgery--about what you should and should not do. After surgery, while still in the hospital, you will most likely be visited by a physical therapist who will help guide you to speedy recovery.

Use your non-surgical arm to do most of the work. There are no specific restrictions in terms of types of clothing to wear, just follow these tips for putting them on. For a shirt, use the non-surgical arm to put your surgical arm into the sleeve, and pull the shirt all the way up to the shoulder. If it is a pullover shirt, put your head through next, then your non-surgical arm. Some people find button-up shirts to be more comfortable post-surgery as there is no over-the-head motion.

Put your arm immobiliser, or sling, on over your shirt. Your doctor will advise you on how long this needs to be worn, but it is generally four to six weeks. Use your non-surgical arm to put the sling on and make adjustments. You also may want to have someone help you.

Put on your trousers or skirt with your non-surgical arm. Use an extended shoe horn to help with shoes so that you do not have to bend all the way over or reach down too far. Choose slip-on shoes instead of shoes with shoelaces.


Do not put any weight or lean on the arm that has been operated on. Do not lift items, even those that seem light, with that arm. Do not let the elbow of your surgical arm go behind your body.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoulder sling
  • Clothes
  • Extended shoe horn
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About the Author

Mary Fenton received a Bachelor of Arts in dance with an emphasis on performance and choreography from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a professional dancer, dance teacher, Realtor and writer.