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Having Arthroscopic Surgey mid Jan for Rotator Cuff and Impingement

Hoping to get some feedback and advice from others on this site for how to best prepare for the recovery from my surgery in a few weeks. I have put off making the decision to have the surgery, putting up with increasing and constant pain for the past year, because I just hate thinking about how I'll have to cope for all the weeks and months of recovery. I will go even more stir crazy than I am now, won't be able to drive for weeks or longer, ugh!!

The shoulder that needs surgery is my dominant arm.. unfortunately. So lack of coordination for doing anything is a given. I'm 68, live alone.. so first off, just how difficult is self-care after the surgery? And for how long? Should I assume I need someone to come by an hour or so a day just to be sure I can shower, dress, get the sling back on, etc.?? How long does this most-dependent stage after surgery last?

I'm surprised my surgeon has given me so little information about the "realities" of recovery, just a ridiculous little booklet. For someone who lives alone, I can't just wait till the surgery is done to get dropped off at home and try to figure out how to manage. Can we even dress ourselves in the early days after surgery, no matter how careful we try to be with shoulder?? Do I need someone to come by in the evening to help me get ready for bed?!? Maybe I just stay in sweats 24 hours a day for a week or more, changing only in the morning when I shower?

I'm sure all of you have gone through long periods with the pain of the torn rotator muscle/impingement pain before opting for surgery... all in all, is the post surgery pain worth it, and long term has you regained good use of shoulder, no pain?? Any horror stories of surgery not really leading to any (or enough) improvement?

I have long time chronic bi-lateral neck and shoulder pain -- are there slings that support the weight of the arm with a brace belt around trunk? I've tried to use a regular sling to hold up my arm but within 20 minutes I just can't tolerate the weight of the arm pulling on the opposite side across my traps, neck muscles. So, weeks of this will be unbearable.

any and all advice would be welcome. thanks!!




  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,636


    I have had multiple spinal surgeries and have had both of my shoulders and hips totally replaced with implants.

    My experience is that the should surgery recovery was the longest and hardest to go through. For me, it took over 23 months to get back to (and it was better than normal)

    I could not use my shoulder for anything. So showering, dressing, eating was basically impossible without assistance. I needed to wear that brace for 7 weeks, but never felt any tugs.

    But keep in mind, I am talking about a complete shoulder replacement. You are having a arthroscopic surgery which should minimize the recovery pain, and timeframe. I still believe you will need some help. But before surgery get some definite answers from your surgeon.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: [email protected]
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805

    Hey Susan,

    I had the similar surgery you are describing to my dominant right shoulder, and to be honest I wished I would have had it done sooner. Mine went very well, wore the prescribed sling as Dr's orders, and didn't have any problems with day to day tasks. You may need some assistance like Ron had said, especially in the early stages of recovery. I wish I could remember the timelines better as I had that done probably 6 years ago, but to this day I remind myself how beneficial that surgery was and still is to this day.

    Good luck to you Susan

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  • thanks to the two first respondents.. helpful info! I think I will over-plan, and rely on friends as well, which I hate since I don't like being dependent!

  • Susan - I had surgery for a torn rotator cuff, impingement, and a torn bicep tendon on my dominant arm about 6 years ago. I have regained exceptionally good motion and there are very
    few days I have any pain. Usually I feel some pain when I do too much
    with that arm. Yes, it was definitely worth having the surgery. Recovery was not easy and there was quite a bit of pain involved, especially at times during physical therapy. It will be extremely important to follow the orders your doctor and physical therapist give you, and do the prescribed exercises they give you to do at home. This is so important to regain the range of motion and strength back. I have regained exceptionally good motion and there are very few days I have any pain. Usually I feel some pain when I do too much with that arm.

    I was able to drive after about 1 week after the surgery. Of course I was no longer on pain meds at that point. I did have to swap cars with my wife since my Jeep had a manual transmission, and I could not shift it. I did have a really good sling with a strap over my unhurt shoulder and a strap that went around my waist. The sling also had a nice big cushion to rest my forearm on and also had a ball with velcro near the hand area that I could detach and squeeze to exercise my hand and forearm. The other thing they gave me at the hospital before I left was an electric cold pack machine. I had never even seen one before. It was the neatest thing, and I must say it really helped during recovery. I understand about having to rely on other people to help you, but you WILL need help, especially the first week or two. My wife had to help me shower and get dressed and do many other things I could not do with one arm. I can't remember exactly how long I needed help, but definitely the first couple of weeks. I am getting ready to go through a lumbar fusion on Jan 8, so I will be back to relying on her and my 2 sons to help me again. I wish you the very best, and look forward to hearing how your recovery goes. Have a great New Year!

  • Hi Susan,

    2 yrs ago, I had surgery after separating my shoulder. I too live alone and never wanted to inconvenience others. My prep suggestions: freeze meals now that you can microwave; use Amazon & have groceries delivered to you (it’s hell moving a heavy cart with one arm!); pull items down now to counter/bed/floor level that you normally use (towels, blankets, glasses, bowls, laundry detergent). Wean yourself off meds after first week, use ibuprofen. Practice now strapping yourself in to car w/one hand—not easy! Have down pillows to adjust your shoulder because sleeping is the worst. When you start PT, understand your exercises and do them daily without fail. Most of all, be patient—it took 6 months of PT until my shoulder felt normal again. I’ll be having surgery on my right shoulder in 1 month, not looking forward to it, but I can’t handle this pain and I know we’ll return to normal. Also, wash your hair upside down, it’s much easier! Best of luck!

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  • There are a lot of helpful videos on YouTube for how to get dressed, manage the complicated immobilizer

  • I am 80 years old and had the same surgery Jan. 3 that you are scheduled for. I can honestly say pain has not been a problem - I can't take any kind of narcotic (they all make me very nauseated) and have only bothered to take about 3 doses so far of OTC pain pills. I did have an On Q inserted during surgery which helped a lot but it came out accidentally when I removed the dressing on day 3. The downside of it is managing as I live alone even though I practiced before hand using just my non-dominant hand (I really suggest doing that). I thought I would get bored but it takes sooo long to do things the day goes fast! I made a list of "handy hints" for a friend who is going to have the same surgery. Here it is for what it is worth -

    Loosen jar tops, med bottles, open milk carton tabs; open boxed items like TV dinners.
    For things like coffee in cans, get easy to open canisters for it.
    Use floss pick instead of tape.
    Poncho for wear outside.
    Shoes with velcro fastening or slip-ons.
    Do fingernails and toenails before surgery.
    Put Tylenol or Advil tablets in easy to open container or loosen tops.
    For pet food, open cans and put food in easy to use container for several days ahead of time.
    Fill salt shaker, creamer container, cereal canister, etc.
    Get wedge pillow.
    Get hose attachment for sink for washing hair.
    Get loose, front-opening shirts. For women, dark material because you can't wear bras.
    For women, cap or hair band to keep hair out of the way.
    Wet wipes for bathroom use.
    Sponge on a handle for shower.
    Small bills for tips for any food deliveries.
    Electric razor.
    2 cold packs to alternate.
    Spray deodorant instead of roll-on - can't lift arm.
    Disposable plates, utensils.
    Basket to carry things from room to room.
    Extra pillows to prop both arms at night.
    Hand sanitizer for cleaning the good hand.
    Dressing stick and buttoning aid.
    Attachment for steering wheel which lessens rotation of arm while driving - haven't gotten to that point yet.

    I signed up for Netflix for a month to help with the boredom. Friends have been wonderful. I froze some Chinese take-out for variety from the TV dinners. I use med boxes but got enough for 4 weeks. I made a wall chart to mark off the days for 6 weeks, like a prisoner!

    2 things are the real problem - driving and with my long hair, no way to do it up. Any questions, send me a private message if this forum allows.

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