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Can You Drive After A Shoulder Surgery?

The shoulders are a very tricky part of the body. Like an elegant machine, the rotator cuff – a bundle of muscles and tendons just above the shoulder joint – allows for a wide range of physical movements. Therefore, our shoulders often carry the weight of many of our daily activities.

Overuse or injury can lead to shoulder joint instability and various injuries. Shoulder pain, limited mobility, and muscle weakness are common symptoms of shoulder injuries

One of the most common problems patients face in shoulder surgery is when they can start driving again. One can find guidelines about returning to driving in this article. They are based on the amount of time it takes for you to be able to move the shoulder safely without assistance, without impairing surgical repairs or causing yourself or others to injure themselves from a lack of control.

Dr Chandra Shekar. B provided this article gives information about the question.

After Operation

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The patient may be given postoperative pain relievers along with a sling or other device designed to numb the area for some time.

After surgery, one of the most popular questions patients ask the shoulder surgeon is, “When can I drive again?” In general, you should avoid driving for at least six to twelve weeks or until your doctor says you don’t need to wear the sling any more. Driving with one hand is unsafe, and one should not use an operated shoulder for driving.

Driving vehicles can be difficult because you can’t use your control arm. If you have an accident or need to be in a sling, the authorities can assume that you are in a damaged position. The decision to ride is based on the comfort of one-handed riding. If you have to drive and the surgery is fixed, the last thing you should do is wait to drive.

Things to consider

Pain level

It is important to note that you will most likely be in the sling for 2 to 6 weeks while recovering from surgery with the rotator cuff. Driving is not recommended until you are out of your arms sling. The reaction time with one arm, especially the non-dominant one, decreases after surgery.

After the sling is removed, you will need to assess your pain level. If your shoulder hurts continuously, you can’t focus on driving, and repetitive steering movements can worsen the pain. If you are taking pain relievers, driving is not safe.

Driving considerations

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Apart from the pain experienced during rotator cuff surgery, there are several other factors to consider. How long is the trip? You may be ready for a short trip, but you can’t go far. How is the driving condition? When the road is wet or snowy, the response time may be slower than usual. Can you enter and exit the vehicle safely without the use of operating limbs? Can you change gears and wear a seat belt? Please do not drive if you are still on the painkiller or if your hand is still in the arms.

Driving and Opioid

  • Immediately after surgery, you will likely take pain relievers, sedatives (similar to alcohol).
  • These drugs can affect your concentration, judgment, and reaction time.
  • It would be best if you did not drive while taking this medicine.

Objectives to follow before returning to driving after shoulder surgery

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  • Painless driving.
  • Arm splints are no longer needed to protect your limb from pain or injury or for recovery.
  • The shoulder range corresponds to 90 degrees of forwarding flexion and 90 degrees of abduction.
  • The elbow movement is almost equivalent to full extension.
  • The normal function of the hand and wrist.
  • Your shoulder limb strength should be about the same as the other side and not be affected by pain, shock, or poor nerve/muscle function.
  • Once your hands are strong enough and have sufficient freedom of movement to perform the physical driving motions, it is also essential to consider reaction times. 
  • As with most return to activity tips, it is best to pursue gradual returns, increasing duration and intensity whenever comfort allows.

Test your driving skills after shoulder surgery before you start driving 

  • Before driving on public roads, drive your car to an empty parking lot and practice driving in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Once you can safely and repeatedly perform all the emergency braking and manoeuvres required to drive, you may consider returning to driving.


Finally, your doctor may encourage you to undergo physical therapy to increase the range of motion of your arms, elbows, wrists, and arms.

To learn more about rotator cuff repair and for answers to specific postoperative questions, contact Dr Chandra Shekar. B at  91 9959588389 to make an appointment.

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