Why can't I lift a bike after a shoulder replacement

Q: I saw a picture in a biking magazine of a guy who could lift his mountain bike up over his head after having a shoulder replacement. I have a shoulder replacement and there's no way I can do that. Why not?

A: Joint replacements are usually done for one of three major reasons: 1) there's been a traumatic injury that cannot be repaired, 2) there's significant joint erosion from degenerative joint disease, and 3) the patient has rheumatoid arthritis.

The type of joint replacement (design) and surgery to put it in place can vary depending on the patient's age, general health, and reason for joint replacement. Goals and desired activity level can also influence the type of implant and surgery performed.

Age and activity level prior to surgery are two significant factors that determine what a patient can do after joint replacement. Good-to-excellent general health with no other serious conditions go a long way in making it possible to regain full motion, strength, and function.

Participation in an active rehab program is another essential ingredient in restoring full function. All patients can expect at least a 12-week period of rehab before pain, stiffness, and swelling are no longer present and interfering with motion and function.

Many patients remain in rehab for up to five months or more. It is often six months before they can return to full physical activity and sports participation. A sports-specific rehab program is advised for anyone who intends to return to activities such as power lifting, football, mountain biking, and so on.

Reference: Laura A. Vogel, BS, et al. Physical Activity After Total Joint

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