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Shoulder arthroscopy--pain, recovery?

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Old 05-18-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
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Shoulder arthroscopy--pain, recovery?

It seems odd there isn't a board for shoulder problems, but it seems the shoulder problems all just go here, so here goes:

I had arthroscopic surgery nearly a week ago for a labral tear. Surgeon repaired the tear, didn't find any other problems, no complications. Went home a couple hours later. I had an inter-scalene block, but even with that, I had some pain when I woke up. They gave me some vicodin and sent me home with a scrip for more.

Everything I've read seems to indicate that pain persists for a couple of days. That hasn't been my experience. I've limited the vicodin quite a bit, because it does give me some troubling side effects and I need to be able to function. Even when I take it, it seems to not be working as well as it did at first. I didn't think one could develop a tolerance to it to the point of ineffectiveness so quickly, especially since I hadn't taken it 'round the clock as prescibed, but generally only in late afternoon/evening when the pain is especially bad and when I'm done with my major activities for the day.

But the pain doesn't seem to be lessening. Because he repaired the cartilage, I'm not supposed to start moving it at all for a couple of weeks. PT will start in another week. For now, movement is completely restricted. It feels very stiff and tight from not moving, but there's also a lot of grating pain and feeling of instability along with swelling and tingling. My hand still gets a bit swollen when I'm not on the vicodin. I still get a lot of pain if there's any pressure on the shoulder at all, as in leaning back against a cough cushion, or anything like that. Still wake up in a lot of pain if I don't sleep upright. I'm allowed to type, although I get a lot of pain in my bicep area when I do that.

To sum up this long-winded complaint, it still hurts, a lot, long after it seems the pain should be very tolerable.

Perhaps that quick recovery from arthroscopy is more common with debridements rather than repairs? Perhaps I hurt it somehow? I am a little concerned about that because just before the weekend, my toddler managed to climb up on my me while I was dozing, wedge herself between torso and my arm in the sling, and fling her weight against the arm. That hurt a lot and my shoulder was tingly and very painful for a while after that. I don't have a good grasp on how durable these repairs are. Could one quick jerk like that have messed up the whole repair?

Is it normal for this kind of surgery to hurt this much a week later?

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Old 05-18-2008, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Shoulder arthroscopy--pain, recovery?

The purpose of your arthroscopic surgery was different than mine, but I can tell you that pain a week later is normal. Your shoulder will still have alot of inflammation. In your case, you also have to give the tear time to heal together. Do try to be careful not to do anything that pulls on the tear. If you are concerned about your recent pull on the shoulder, call your surgeon's office and ask. I know my surgeon encouraged this. I have a friend a work who had his tear re-attached to the bone this winter. He was immobalized for 6 weeks. He has regained almost full strength in the last several months though and has become quite active lately.

I am 6 weeks out from decompression surgery and still have alot of inflammation. For me, sleeping after surgery was difficult because I couldn't find a comfortable position and I often woke myself up because I moved in my sleep. It isn't quite the same, but I can tell you when my shoulder was out of wack before the surgery, I developed some major bicep pain, especially when I was writing for any length of time. The bicep pain has gotten much better as the inflammation in the shoulder has reduced.

I wish you well in your recovery.

Old 05-20-2008, 04:28 AM   #3
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Re: Shoulder arthroscopy--pain, recovery?

you are still a pretty "fresh"post op patient so the level of pain would be normal for what you had done. believe me, i went thru a rotator cuff full thickness tear repair along with decomp and other odds and ends back on feb 6 and still have some pain here. i am doing the hands on PT still. i am assuming you are still in a sling for this too? that in and of itself can create some problems with just the non movement too. that will usually get better with time once you are able to actually "do" with that arm and joint again.

when you left the hospital,did they give you some actual excercises to do whle waiting for PT to begin? if not,they should have. you need to try and excercise that joint without involving the muscle or tendon in most cases. this really does help to minimize the overall pain there. i was kind of suprised given the horrid pain i was in post op while still inthe hospital,but amazingly,it did help alot just doing the excercises. you can also never "over ice' that area either. ice was crucial for me with reducing my pain and the swelling i had as well. just do like 20 min every hour or so,it will help.

you got hit by your child post op and i got slammed in my shoulder by our "little' puppy who is an english mastiff/great dane mix. thought i really messed things up in there when he slammed me but i think its okay. you just really have to be very careful when it comes to your child. getting hit in the surgical area by anything or anyone,can effect it depending. i would make certain to at least mention that incident to your surgeon.

all i keep hearing from my surgeon and my PT is the shoulder stuff just takes time. alot more than i would have thought too. my overall pain really started to get sooo much better til i started the hands on PT,then it flared after every session. that is normal too since you are getting things moving again within that joint. ice helps alot with this too. i think you are probably doing about as well as can be expected at this point. just make certain you follow any orders from your surgeon as far as any excercises and PT to the letter. the PT is designed to get 'your" surgical areas back into the right mode again. if it is not really followed,your shoulder will pay dearly for it. the shoulder can "freeze up' on you without the proper PT being done,trust me.

adding something like aleeve or motrin would help alot with inflammation if you can take it. hopefully you will get thru this soon. but considering everything,i do think you sound pretty normal at this stage. please keep us posted. watch out for flying children. **
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9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

Old 05-22-2008, 04:12 AM   #4
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Re: Shoulder arthroscopy--pain, recovery?

snowdrift, I am abit behind here in replying. Did your surgeon say the tingling or swelling are normal? I had the decompression done 1wk before feelbad had her surgery. I was in pain, bad pain for alot longer then a week. Then again vicodin would not have touched that pain. I was told if the pain was real bad to call. Ice helped me more then anything, & if you can take motrin, try adding it. Vicodin is not an anti inflammatroy & that is probably why you are in so much pain. I would let the doctor know about the incident with your child just in case. I did not have any tears repaired but feelbad did & she was still in pain long after a week. I am assuming after any surgery to the shoulder it takes some time for that pain to go down, I can't remember but I think I was still in alot of pain a month after, which my surgeon said was normal. I was told the shoulder is one surgery that is abit more painful & has a longer healing time. Let us know how it goes. If your not doing so already ice, ice, ice. Sammy

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