Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is an effective treatment for shoulder pain – particularly for those suffering from tears of the rotator cuff. However, postoperative care can seem overwhelming – after surgery, there are a lot of things to think about. Not knowing what to do after surgery is understandable. If you’re undergoing surgery with Dr. Steven S. Goldberg, here are some guidelines to ensure your surgery is smooth and successful.
1. Prepare Yourself
The most important thing you can do after surgery – especially if you live alone – is to prepare yourself to be able to do your essential activities of daily living, such as showering, dressing, and preparing meals afterward. It can be difficult if you’re typically an independent person. Consider enlisting some help around your home from a friend or close family member to assist with these activities. In some cases, a home health aid or visiting nurse agency can be employed to help in some functions.
2. Resume Your Normal Medications
In most cases, you will be taking your normal medications that you typically take up until the day of surgery, unless instructed otherwise. Medicines that likely will be stopped prior to surgery typically include blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin, or other anti-clotting medicine but your doctor will specify when those should be stopped. It is important to listen to your doctor about when to stop these medications and when you can resume them after surgery. Most likely, you will be given a prescription for pain medications after surgery and it is imperative that you listen to instructions while taking it. Hopefully, you will be able to transition from prescription pain medications to something less strong quickly after surgery.
3. Eat Slowly
After surgery, general anesthesia may make you queasy and lose your appetite. This is normal, but it’s important to resume your diet to fuel your body as soon as possible so you can begin recovering. Eat some bland foods like crackers before you graduate to your normal foods – and ensure you get plenty of protein and fiber as part of your post-surgical diet.
4. Exercise Slowly
Exercise was likely a large part of your lifestyle prior to surgery, and it can be difficult to make yourself rest and recover for several weeks. However, resting the arm and allowing the rotator cuff time to heal is essential for optimal outcomes. Returning to exercise too early can have a negative impact on your recovery. Dr. Goldberg will give you guidance on when you can return to your regular exercise regimen but plan on taking it slow and sticking to light exercises like walking until your body is ready to move on to more intensive activities. In most cases where the rotator cuff is repaired, moderate and strenuous activities, such as golf, racket sports, weightlifting, tennis, and kayaking should be avoided for at least three months and only after your doctor authorizes you to return. It is important to keep your sling on during walking and other exercises unless specifically instructed by your doctor.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is the single best thing you can do while you recover. Ahead of your surgery, make sure to set up a comfortable, quiet recovery area in your home that includes a couch or bed with plenty of pillows for propping as well as climate control and your preferred entertainment. Although Dr. Goldberg doe not require you to sleep in a recliner chair or couch, many patients find this to be more comfortable. Additionally, a pillow placed between the arm and the chest wall often helps reduce pain when sleeping.
6. Record Your Symptoms
If you have a friend or family member helping you with your recovery, make sure they know everything going on with your recovery. A journal is a handy way to keep track of everything – if you notice any concerning patterns, it can help Dr. Goldberg assess any complications before they become serious.
Schedule a Consultation
The best thing you can do after surgery is follow our instruction sheet (you’ll be given a more in-depth instruction sheet prior to surgery). To learn more about your orthopedic surgery options, contact our Naples office by calling or filling out our online form.