FAQ Shoulder Arthroscopy




1.How long does shoulder arthroscopy take?

The surgery usually takes about 1-2 hours.

2.How long will I be at the hospital?

Patients usually are at the hospital about 4-5 hours. Although the surgery does not take that long, you will need time to check in, prepare for the procedure, have your surgery, and recover from the procedure before going home. Shoulder arthroscopy is typically an outpatient procedure, and you will go home the same day.

3.How long do I have to wear a sling?

You must wear your sling for 3-4 weeks. After 4 weeks, you can use the sling as needed. Dr. Burns may advise you to start decreasing your time in a sling after your first visit 3 weeks after the surgery.

4.Do I need to sleep in my sling?

Yes. Most patients will find it more comfortable to sleep in a sling for the first few weeks, and some prefer to sleep propped up in a recliner. We recommend that you sleep in a sling to protect your shoulder for the first 4 weeks.

5.When can I drive?

Dr. Burns will typically allow patients to drive 2 weeks after surgery if they feel comfortable controlling a car and are off pain medications. For most patients this is between 2 and 4 weeks.

6.When can I take a shower?

Most patients take a shower 24 hours after their surgery. It is okay to remove the dressings and get the incisions wet as long as there is not significant drainage. Pat dry with a towel. Leave the the steri-strips on. You can cover the incisions with antibiotic ointment and a bandage if necessary. Do not soak your incisions in a tub, whirlpool, bath, or pool until they have completely healed. This usually takes 2 weeks.

7.Will I need therapy after surgery?

Yes. Dr. Burns will provide you with a therapy prescription at your first postoperative visit 3 weeks after surgery. You will typically start physical therapy by 4 weeks after surgery. You may be instructed to start home exercises 1-2 days after your surgery when your block has worn off.

8.When will I return to the office after surgery?

You should make a post op appointment for 3 weeks after surgery to see Dr. Burns.

9.Do I have any restrictions after surgery?

Yes. Follow any restrictions provided on your discharge instructions. Many shoulder arthroscopy patients will have restrictions of no lifting, pushing, or pulling more than 1 pound for 8 weeks after surgery. Some patients will also have restrictions for the “invisible wall” in which you are asked to keep your arm in front of you for everyday activity, avoiding using your arm out to the side.

10. When can I resume normal activity like work and sports?

Be sure to discuss this with Dr. Burns. If you have a sedentary desk job, you may be able to return to work after 2 weeks in a sling. If you have a very heavy physical job, it may be 4 months or longer before you are able to resume normal duties, depending on the type of surgery. Sports rehabilitation after shoulder arthroscopy is typically 4-6 months.