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Post-Operative Rotator Cuff Shoulder Surgery


Post-Operative Rotator Cuff Shoulder Surgery

SLING/IMMOBILIZER – Your arm has been placed in a sling. This will support the shoulder and arm and keep your arm at your side. As long as you are wearing this, your shoulder is well protected. It is safe for you to free your hand from the sling and dangle your arm as long as you keep your elbow at your side. You may bend your elbow to reach toward your face, i.e. to brush your teeth, use a fork, etc. but should avoid reaching higher than this until I tell you otherwise. DO NOT try to use your own muscles to move your elbow away from your side until I tell you it is okay to do so. This will pull on the repair and may break or loosen any sutures in place. Please sleep with the sling on. Prop a pillow behind your elbow to keep your arm from sagging backwards. Also, many patients are more comfortable sleeping in a recliner. To wash your armpit, you may lean slightly forward and let your arm dangle away from your side and wash with a washcloth.

WOUND CARE – Most patients go home on the day of surgery while others stay overnight. If you went home on the day of your surgery, change your dressing approximately 48 hours postoperatively. There will be a large amount of moist gauze under the tape that may have some bloody drainage on it. This is expected and should not worry you. Simply place some dry gauze over the incisions and tape loosely to the skin to keep clothes from rubbing on the incisions. As an alternative, you can use Band-Aids.

If you went home the day after surgery, your bandage may have been changed for you. You can change it as above should the new gauze become damp or dirty.

Please make every attempt to keep your incisions dry for one week postoperatively. This is to prevent water from carrying skin bacteria into the incisions and causing an infection. You may tape some Saran Wrap over the wounds in order to shower or use sponge baths.

MEDICATIONS – Most patients are discharged with a pain medication such as Norco (hydrocodone) and a pain/anti-inflammatory medication (Toradol/ketorolac). These may be taken in combination with each other. The most common side effects are stomach upset. If this develops, please call my office. The Norco/hydrocodone can cause drowsiness and you should avoid driving while taking it. Narcotic medications will be refilled for no longer than one month after surgery. If further pain medications are needed, we will refer you to a pain management specialist.

Most patients have a “block” at the time of their surgery that makes the whole arm and shoulder numb. This usually lasts about 10-14 hours after the surgery. When it begins to wear off, you will feel some prickling and tingling in your fingers. This is expected. At that time you should begin taking your pain medication. I want to have the pain medication in your system before the block wears off completely so that the pain cannot get ahead start. So, go ahead and start taking your pain medications when your hand first starts to wake up.

FOLLOW UP – Call the appointment desk at (713) 441-9000 to arrange for your first postoperative visit, which should be 5-10 days after your surgery. John Roker, my Physicians Assistant, will probably see you on your first post-op visit to check your incisions, remove sutures, and begin therapy if needed. At that time we will go over your surgical results including photos taken during the arthroscopic portion of your surgery.

Revised June 19, 2008

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