How to Prepare for Shoulder Surgery

January 29, 2015
G2 Admin

The shoulder joint: a ball and socket joint full of tissue structures, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It is the most mobile joint in the body; flexible and essential to assist in a wide range of activities. However, this flexibility also makes the shoulder more prone to injury. If you have injured your shoulder joint and conventional physiotherapy and rest are not healing it, you may need surgery. Keep reading to learn more about what shoulder surgery entails from pre-surgery to operation to recovery.

Talk with your doctor

Speaking with an orthopedic surgeon before your procedure can help put your concerns at ease as you prepare yourself mentally for the surgery. Dr. Goradia at G2 Orthopedics treats all of his patients as individuals, taking the time to get to know their symptoms as well as their lifestyle so he can provide the best surgical care possible. When meeting with your surgeon prior to surgery, they may do the following:

  • Familiarize you with arthroscopy. Shoulder arthroscopy involves the surgeon making a small incision in your shoulder and inserting a small camera, called an arthroscope. This allows the surgeon to take a closer look at the condition of your shoulder and determine his/her next step in the surgery.
  • Discuss the types of anesthesia available to you, including the risks and benefits. Regional anesthesia is used to freeze the surgery area only. General anesthesia puts you to sleep so that you feel nothing at all.
  • Discuss your medical history, including types of medications you take and allergies you have, as you may be asked to discontinue certain medications before the surgery.

What to Expect The Day of Your Shoulder Surgery

Before you even head to the hospital where the surgery will take place, remember the following things:

  • You’ll likely be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.
  • Bring a shirt that buttons up at the front to wear after surgery, as you won’t be able to pull anything over your head.
  • Ensure you have a friend or family member waiting for you to drive you home afterwards.

During Shoulder Surgery

  • Local or general anaesthetic will be applied.
  • The surgeon will arthroscopically investigate the damage within the joint and determine the surgical needs. This may include:
    Rotator cuff repair, in which tears in the tendons are repaired, and extra bone growth is shaved down.
    – Repairing shoulder instability, in which the rim of the shoulder joint and the tissues that attach to it are restored.
    – Repairing shoulder impingement, in which damaged or inflamed tissue is cleaned out.
  • Once complete, the surgeon will put you into recovery where you will rest until the anaesthetic is out of your system.

Recovery Period After Shoulder Surgery

Adjusting to life after shoulder surgery can be difficult. Depending on the type and extent of the surgery, recovery can be anywhere from 1 to 6 months. During the first part, you may have to greatly reduce the amount you exercise and be prepared to keep your injured shoulder still. You will need to wear a sling to use for your arm (or check if the hospital provides you with one). You may need to prepare your home in advance so you can take care of daily tasks with the hand on the non-surgery side, or request help from a family member or friend. Pre made or frozen meals are handy to have ready during the recovery period.

After surgery, you will be given medication to help with the pain, as well as a cold pack to keep swelling down. Sutures will need to be covered in dressing and kept dry for 3 days following the surgery; after the 4th day, dressing can be removed, and you can shower as usual.

After the surgery, your doctor will request that you come in for several follow up appointments. The first follow-up will be 5-7 days post surgery. The doctor will assess the surgical site and remove the sutures. Subsequent follow-up visits will be for physiotherapy recommendations, and will continue for up to 6 months.

Returning to work and recreation after shoulder surgery is variable, depending on the type of activity you want to pursue and your job requirements. Light physical work can usually be resumed after 6 weeks, while heavier lifting will take up to 6 months to resume.