Shoulder Arthroscopy: Guide For Families

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When your family member needs shoulder arthroscopy, you may be happy to know there’s a solution for your loved one’s shoulder pain. However, many family members will have routine questions and concerns about shoulder surgery.  

 

How can I help?

Often the best way you can help is by keeping track of medication, information, and instructions and by providing support. You will also need to make sure your family member has transportation to and from surgery, as they will not be able to drive themselves. It’s best if you’re available the day of surgery for Dr. Burns to review the surgery findings with you.

 

Is the surgery outpatient?

Yes, shoulder arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, which means that your loved one can come in and go home the same day. You will need to bring them and drive them home. My patients will typically receive a shoulder “block” which is an injection before the surgery to numb the arm, as well as having a general anesthesia. This means they will not be awake for the surgery. It also means that your family member will not be able to feel, move or use the arm for 12-24 hours after surgery.

 

What will my family member need after surgery?

After surgery, their arm will be in a sling. I recommend that you ice your family member’s shoulder and elevate it. Most patients will be more comfortable sleeping in a recliner or propped up with pillows for the first 1-2 weeks. They can perform shoulder exercises as instructed and move their elbow wrist and hand; they can shower after 24 hours and change or remove the dressing (bandage) if there is no drainage.

 

Will they need to do exercises?

Most patients will be instructed to perform a few gentle exercises to reduce stiffness in the shoulder. Some patients will be instructed not to perform exercises. Remember that your family member should only do shoulder exercises as instructed based on the information given at the time of surgery.

 

How much time will my family member need off work?

Many patients wonder how much time they will need off work. It depends on the type of work that they do and the type of surgery they are having; however, most people need 1-2 weeks off work just to rest their shoulder, ice, elevate, and take their medication. If your family member has a light or sedentary job, they may be able to return to work in a sling at 2 weeks. However, if they have a heavy labor type of job it may be 3-4 months for return to work. Be sure to discuss this with Dr. Burns.

 

Will I need to take time off work too?

You may wonder if you will need time off from work to care for your loved one. Typically patients who have had arthroscopy will need help for 1-3 days with meals and sometimes dressing. Most patients will return to driving 1-4 weeks after surgery. This will depend on whenever your loved one feels comfortable controlling the vehicle and when they have discontinued pain medication. Thus you or a family member may need to be available to drive the patient to appointments, etc. for the first few weeks.

 

How long should my loved one wear a sling?

Most patients will wear the sling for 3-4 weeks; your family member may remove the sling for showering, bathing and exercises. Some patients will have gentle home exercises, while others may not. Therapy usually starts at 3-4 weeks, after their first visit with Dr. Burns. Most arthroscopic repairs will heal between 3-6 months. Therapy will usually last about 3 months and progress to a home exercise program by 6 months.

If you or your family member has any questions, call Dr. Burns or her staff at 314-291-7900 or access MyChart.

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