Driving after Surgery

Driving after Your Shoulder Surgery

The time taken before someone can return to driving after shoulder surgery will depend on the type of procedure undertaken, the length of immobilisation (if required) and the recovery of active movements. To be able to drive safely you should be capable of actively moving your shoulder without assistance and without damaging the surgical repair.  You should be able to react normally to avoid causing injury to yourself or others due to lack of control.

  • It is a UK requirement that, unless specific dispensation has been granted by the DVLA, a driver uses both arms to control the steering wheel. To achieve this, the driver requires to have sufficient strength and mobility in their shoulder.
  • It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that they are in control of the vehicle at all times. They should be able to demonstrate this if stopped by the police.
  • Drivers should check with their physiotherapist, surgeon and vehicle insurance policy before returning to drive after surgery.
  • It is not a requirement to notify the DVLA unless the medical conditions likely to affect safe driving persist for longer than 3 months after the date of the surgery.
  • Drivers must not drive under the influence of narcotic medications or within a minimum of 24 hours after an anaesthetic.

In Summary

  • You are NOT allowed to drive one handed
  • There is no precise time after surgery when you can return to driving, it varies from person to person. However, the recommended amount of time that your arm should be in a sling following surgery is the MINIMUM time before considering a return to driving
  • You can return to driving when you are capable of moving your shoulder without assistance and are capable of driving safely and reacting appropriately in an emergency situation
  • Although it is not essential it may be wise to discuss your return to driving with your insurance company

More information about the estimated time before returning to drive following a specific procedure can be found in the respective rehabilitation protocol section for each procedure.