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After Shoulder Arthroscopy

After your arthroscopy, you will recover in the hospital or surgery center for a few hours. In some cases, you may stay overnight. When you are able to go home, you will be instructed how to relieve any pain and how to care for your shoulder as it heals. To help with healing, a program of physical therapy (PT) may be prescribed.

Man holding onto chair and bending over at waist with one arm hanging. Ghosting shows him swinging arm back and forth from shoulder.

In the Recovery Room

After surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery area to rest. You’ll have a bandage to protect your incisions, and a sling to hold your arm in place. Nurses will give you medications to help relieve pain. A device is sometimes used to deliver pain medication directly into the joint. In some cases, cold packs or a cooling unit may be used to reduce swelling in your shoulder.

Going Home

Before leaving the hospital or surgery center, be sure to know how to care for your shoulder at home. Ask any questions you have. Also know who to contact if you have questions later. When you are ready to leave the hospital or surgery center, an adult family member or friend will need to drive you home.

At Home

  • Take prescribed pain medications as directed. Don’t wait for pain to get bad before you take them.

  • Ice your shoulder 3 times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Use an ice machine (if given one) or a bag of ice or frozen peas. Put a thin cloth between your skin and the ice source.

  • Take care of your incisions as directed. You can begin bathing again in 3 days.

  • See your doctor for a follow-up visit 5 days after surgery.

  • Wear your sling as directed for 14 days.

  • Complete your physical therapy program.

  • Avoid these activities: _____________, _____________, ______________

Call Your Doctor If You Have

  • Fever over 101°F

  • Bleeding from an incision

  • Increased shoulder pain or swelling

  • A red or oozing incision

  • Numbness or tingling that doesn’t go away 24 hours after surgery

 

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