Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Recovery Time

How long does it take to heal from a shoulder arthroscopic surgery?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that uses a small camera, called an arthroscope, to assess, diagnose, and treat shoulder joint problems.

In this procedure, the arthroscope is inserted through a small cut in the shoulder. The images from the camera are then projected onto a monitor in real-time to help the surgeon see if there is an injury inside the joint. If the injury needs repair, the surgeon may create small cuts in the shoulder to allow small instruments to pass through and repair the joint.

Because the incision in arthroscopic surgery is very small, the pain and healing time is often considerably lesser than traditional open surgery. Depending on the injury, healing and recovery can range from 6 weeks to 6 months.

Is shoulder arthroscopic surgery worth it?

Shoulder arthroscopic surgery requires a smaller incision on the shoulder. This means that the recovery time will be shorter because the surgical wound is smaller. You will still experience pain because it is still a surgical operation but it will likely be less than with open surgery.

Also, shoulder arthroscopic surgery results in minimal scarring so there is less stiffness in the shoulder joint. This makes it easier and faster for the shoulder to recover and return to its usual function.   

Is shoulder arthroscopic surgery painful?

All surgeries will result in pain, and this can be managed with pain medications. During the surgery, you will be administered anesthesia to help block the pain. You may also be given a nerve block that will numb the shoulder so that there will be no pain even as the effect of the anesthesia wears off.

A few hours after your surgery, when you are stable and no longer feeling any nausea from the anesthesia, you may be allowed to go home. You will then take the pain medications prescribed to you before the nerve block goes off so you can control your pain at home.

Is shoulder arthroscopic surgery a major surgery?

All surgeries performed on the shoulder can be considered major surgeries. Shoulder arthroscopic surgery is a less invasive procedure that is often performed in less than an hour depending on the extent of the injury. This means that you can typically go home on the same day.

It is usually prescribed to repair rotator cuff injuries, ligaments, and recurrent shoulder dislocation, as well as to remove any inflamed tissue or cartilage.

What is normal pain after shoulder surgery?

The pain and swelling you will experience after the surgery should not be greater than the pain you experienced prior to your surgery. Before you get discharged from the hospital, your doctor will prescribe you pain medications to help you manage the pain at home.

It is normal to feel pain on the shoulder and around it due to the swelling and the incision made during the surgery. After about a week, the pain should decrease and you may be able to return to some of your daily activities.

If the pain worsens a few days after the surgery or seems to be not getting better even after taking the prescribed pain medications, seek the advice of your doctor immediately.

How long does the pain last after arthroscopic shoulder surgery?

After arthroscopic shoulder surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for about 1 to 2 hours so the nursing staff can monitor you for any adverse side effects.

If you were given a nerve block, your shoulder and arm may feel numb for 12 to 24 hours after surgery. You will also be offered some pain medications that you can take at home depending on how you are feeling.

The pain usually lasts for a few days to a week but it will be longer depending on the severity of the injury and the complexity of the repair.

What is the best mode of pain relief after shoulder surgery?

Pain is a subjective feeling. It varies from one individual to another. It also depends on the injury and the extent of the repair done.

Speak with your doctor about the pain medications given to you. Opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and local anesthetic drugs are some of the common pain medications prescribed.

Opioids offer great pain relief. However, it is highly addictive. You must take this medication only with the advice of your doctor and must stop once the pain gets better.

If you are not prescribed any pain medications, you may ask your doctor about over-the-counter drugs if you need help with your pain. Icing the area is also a good way to reduce pain and swelling. Ice should be applied with a layer of cloth in between your skin and the ice for 20 minutes, once every one to two hours.

How long should you take pain medication after shoulder surgery?

Prescribed pain medications are usually taken for about one to two weeks. You must strictly follow the instructions of your doctor regarding your medications. If you feel like the pain relief is not enough, do not take more than what was prescribed without consulting your doctor first.

How long should you take off work after shoulder surgery?

After shoulder arthroscopic surgery, your shoulder will swell and will be painful. You may also feel tired for a few days to a week and may be required to use an arm sling to protect your shoulder. During this time, it is best to stay off work and rest at home.

If your work does not require lifting heavy objects or overhead reaching, you may go back to work after 10 to 14 days. However, if your work entails lifting, you may need to take time off work for a few weeks to a few months.

How do you go to the bathroom after shoulder surgery?

The dressings of your wound from the surgery should be kept clean and dry. You will need to keep it in place for at least two days unless it becomes wet from the swelling. You may take a shower, but try to keep the surgical wound dry for 10 to 14 days.

How long after shoulder surgery can I sleep in a bed?

It may be difficult for you to sleep in a bed in a horizontal position for about six weeks. You may find it more comfortable to sleep in a sitting or semi-reclined position during the period.

If you prefer to sleep on a bed, you will need to support your arm, elevate it, and position it away from your body.  If you wish to sleep on your side, sleep on the non-operated arm.

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