Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon
Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon
Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon

Driving After Shoulder Surgery

Driving After Shoulder Surgery

After undergoing shoulder surgery, many patients are eager to return to driving as soon as possible. However, recovering from shoulder surgery can make a big difference in your ability to drive safely. As such, you need to carefully consider a number of factors before getting back behind the wheel. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr James McLean has provided this information as a general guide to driving after shoulder surgery. For advice tailored to your individual circumstances, speak to Dr McLean.

Types of shoulder surgery

SA Ortho Dr James McLean provides a number of solutions for shoulder injuries and diseases, including:

  • Rotator cuff repairs
  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Tendon transfers and reconstructive surgery
  • All fracture (broken bones) repairs (humerus, scapula, glenoid, and clavicle bones)
  • Shoulder separation and dislocation repair
  • SLAP lesion surgery

See the types of shoulder surgery Dr James McLean peforms here.

How soon can I drive after shoulder surgery?

Your ability to return to driving will depend on the type of surgery you’ve had, the severity of your condition, and your post-operative recovery progress. In addition, your shoulder may be in a sling for 4-6 weeks. As such, SA Ortho Dr James McLean recommends waiting for approximately 6 weeks before assessing your ability to drive.

Below is a summary of the most common types of shoulder surgery and their recommended restricted driving periods:

  • Arthroscopic subacromial decompression – 2 weeks
  • Biceps tenodesis – minimum 4 weeks
  • Capsular release – 2 weeks
  • Labral repair – 6 weeks
  • Rotator cuff – minimum 6 weeks
  • Shoulder replacement – minimum 6 weeks

Each patient is slightly different and may heal at different rates. Dr McLean will provide a professional assessment of your ability to return to safe driving post-surgery.

Safe driving requirements

You should not attempt to drive until you no longer wear a sling, your pain has reduced and you can confidently perform all manoeuvres required for safe driving. In your post-operative follow-up, Dr McLean will provide a professional assessment of your capabilities and make a recommendation. In addition:

  • Check with your insurance company to ensure you are covered post-surgery.
  • Make sure you are lucid and not influenced by pain medication.
  • Drive short distances for your first few trips to avoid fatigue.
  • Ensure that BOTH arms can control the steering wheel with full mobility.

It is good practice to first test your ability to drive in a safe area such as an empty car park.  Read our full guide for the Australian rules for driving after surgery.

Driving and pain relief

After your surgery, Dr McLean may prescribe pain medication for your first few weeks of recovery.
DO NOT drive while affected by pain medication, as it can affect your ability to drive safely.

How Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr James McLean can help

Prior to surgery, Dr McLean will discuss your post-operative recovery schedule with you. If you are considering driving after rotator cuff surgery, please read the driving after rotator cuff surgery guide here. To book an online appointment at one of our convenient locations, click here or phone 08 8267 8292.

Related: Care for your shoulder after surgery
Related: Flying after shoulder surgery
Related: Types of shoulder surgery