Arthroscopy for Patients Guide

When you need shoulder arthroscopy, most patients are happy to know they have a solution for their shoulder pain. However, many of my patients have routine questions and concerns about shoulder surgery. Shoulder arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, which means that you can come in and go home the same day. You will need someone to bring you and drive you 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 you will not be awake for the surgery.

After surgery, your arm will be in a sling. I recommend that you ice your 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. You can move your elbow wrist and hand; you can shower after 24 hours and change or remove the dressing (bandage) if there is no drainage. You should only do shoulder exercises if instructed, and based on your personal instructions for the surgery you had.

Many patients wonder how much time they will need off work. It depends on the type of work that you do and the type of surgery you are having; however, most people need 1-2 weeks off work just to rest their shoulder, ice, elevate, and take their medication. Most people need that much time before they are comfortable driving. If you have a light or sedentary job, you may be able to return to work in a sling at 2 weeks; if you 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.

Most patients will wear the sling for 4 weeks. Some patients will have gentle home exercises, while others may not. Therapy usually starts at 4-6 weeks. Most arthroscopic repairs (cuff, labrum, etc) will heal between 3-6 months. Therapy will usually last 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.