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Thread: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

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    Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    I have a 75% tear of my rotator cuff that I am having repaired arthroscopically next month. I am looking for any suggestions from folks who have survived shoulder injuries on pain management, sleep techniques, icing options, etc. Dos and Don'ts of recovery would be great, too. Thanks! Danielle

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looing for advice

    That should have said "looking" for advice!

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Have plenty of pillows on your bed for propping your affected arm (even though it is in a sling). Some people sleep in a recliner for a few weeks.
    If you don't have an electric toothbrush--get one!!! Especially if your affected shoulder is on your dominant side.
    Extra large t-shirts work well for covering the sling (without having to put your arm thru) and the rest of you.
    Front closing bras -- a must as you won't have the movement in your arms to do it in back
    Pull up pants--hard to zip or button otherwise
    Slip on shoes -- you won't be able to tie shoes
    Get a back scratcher--you won't be able to scratch your back otherwise
    I found the sling material to be very scratchy on my back---I placed a pillowcase (literally!) between my back and the sling--made it much easier.
    Lay in a stock of frozen meals--practice BEFORE surgery on opening them. I was able to open bottles (not 2 liter ones) by grasping between my knees and using the non-affected hand to open.
    If you're planning on soup--get cans and an electric can opener not pull tabs
    If the doctor prescribes a cryo-cuff (or other icing device)--use it!!!! The ice helps the swelling.

    Don't wait too long between pain medications--once the pain gets a good grip--you'll have trouble getting it under control if you try to tough it out.

    On a female side--do any personal grooming you can before the surgery. If you shave underarms--look into getting them waxed. You won't be able to raise your arm for a few weeks. Spray deodorant works well. Practice using sanitary products using your non-dominant (or non-surgery side) hand--not as easy as you think.

    The first couple of weeks after surgery you won't be able to concentrate on much. I also planned to catch up on my reading but found that People magazine was about my concentration level. Load up the DVR if you can or get a short-term subscription to something like HBO or Showtime.

    Have had shoulder surgery 6 times--2 on dominant side and 4 on non-dominant side Add in a couple of hand surgeries and I've learned most of the tricks!

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    USMS Membership Director Jayhawk's Avatar
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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    msgrupp listed a lot of the things I was going to say. My husband (the USMS webmaster) had surgery about a year ago, and we know a couple of other people who have had it since then.

    The recliner is a big one - if you don't have one, see if you can borrow one for a couple of weeks. Jim slept in the recliner exclusively for at least the first week. He said it hurt way too much to try to lie down in bed. The first few days he also spent a lot of time sitting in the recliner during the day, in front of the TV. He got lucky in that regard - it was during the Summer Olympics so he watched that all day long. Much better than normal daytime TV.

    We bought an ice bag from Walgreens. If they have different sizes, get the larger one.

    The day after his surgery, a nurse and a physical therapist showed up at our house. The physical therapist showed us how to put a t-shirt on him without raising his arm. The shirts need to be big. (We dug out some old XL-sized swim meet t-shirts and that's what he wore every day.)

    I am sure that he would be happy to speak with you if you have more questions. Send me an email or give me a call.

    Anna Lea Matysek
    USMS Membership Director
    941-556-6279
    Membership@usms.org

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Thank you, both. That was so incredibly thoughtful and helpful. What do you guys think of short-sleeved button down shirts for ease of getting on and off?

    Danielle

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    You won't be able to button them. You'll tear the buttonholes trying to slip them over your head.
    Go to Target or Wal-Mart---pick up XL or XXL men's T-shirts (you can even get the summer ones that are on sale)---you'll be happier in the long run.

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    If you've got someone to button the shirts for you, that's a good option. Or if the surgery is going to be on your non-dominant side, you might be OK if you can button things one-handed.

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    Participating Member suphillips's Avatar
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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    I recommend that you make sure you have a good physical therapist, then follow his/her instructions to the letter. Don't overdo the pt exercises to force a more rapid recovery, and don't blow them off, ever. Do the pt exercises long after you think you're better, years, at least, and perhaps even for the rest of your active life. Keep that shoulder strong and stable in every direction shoulders can move, and keep the swimming muscles balanced by the opposing muscles to maintain long-term stability.

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Okay, I am three weeks post-op. Surgery went well. Tendons not frayed and no arthritis, so I feel fortunate. I have not been using pain meds for the past 2 weeks. My biggest complaints are the tightness in my neck snd upper back (I am working on this with my PT) and overall level of exhaustion. This reminds me of how tired I was when my daughter was born and my husband left on a 2 week business trip! When did you guys start to get a good night's sleep after your surgery? I was 10 years younger and my baby was a lot cuter to look down at than this darn sling and bolster!

    Daniellr

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    I slept in an adjustable bed for the whole six weeks I was immobilized in the brace/bolster. I didn't sleep well until I was out of the brace. Good Luck!

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Sleeping was tough. I'd put a pillow parallel to my body on both sides so if I rolled over from the back to the good side or vice versa, the arm was always supported.
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    I am now 5 weeks post-op (still not sleeping well--it's 1:55 am here), and my doctor gave me clearance to get back in the water, which I am excited about. Not to swim as I know it-- my hand has to stay below my shoulder, but right now I couldn't raise it above if I tried anyway. I am thinking of going to free swim for 30 minutes during my daughter's synchro practice and leisurely kicking on my back and maybe doing some gentle egg beatering and/or sculling.

    For rotator cuff folks, what did you do during your first "swims"?

    I am still struggling with very tight and tired traps, especially on the surgery side. That is why I am having trouble sleeping. It's hard to get in a position where my neck isn't uncomfortable. My PT has provided some relief with McConnell tape, and we'll start with kinesio tape this week. I am hoping some gentle time in the pool will help, too.

    again, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share advice with me here.

    Danielle

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Recliner to sleep in is a big one!

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Quote Originally Posted by pedergraham View Post
    I am thinking of going to free swim for 30 minutes during my daughter's synchro practice and leisurely kicking on my back and maybe doing some gentle egg beatering and/or sculling.

    For rotator cuff folks, what did you do during your first "swims"?

    Danielle
    I went in the pool at 3 weeks as soon as my incisions were healed. For the first few weeks I kept my surgical arm down, across my belly, tucking my fingers in the bottom of my suit to keep it still. I did vertical kicking plus kicking on my back and then one arm swimming. It felt so good to move in the water. When I was released to move my arm I added gentle vertical sculling, like treading water but keeping my elbow at my side. I did a lot of "second quadrant" sculling of all types next and then "first quadrant" movement. I think all of that early movement in addition to the prescribed PT really helped my recovery and it certainly helped my mood!

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    start with using full fins and over a month switch to burners

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    Very Active Member RuffWater's Avatar
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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    I feel your pain, Danielle.
    I'm 4 weeks post-op. Sleeping is the worst. And loss of stamina is frustrating.
    Previous suggestions all sound spot-on to me.
    Congrats on being allowed to get back in the water.
    Hydotherapy is probably the best thing for you.

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    Re: Shoulder surgery scheduled...looking for advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RuffWater View Post
    I feel your pain, Danielle.
    I'm 4 weeks post-op. Sleeping is the worst. And loss of stamina is frustrating.
    Previous suggestions all sound spot-on to me.
    Congrats on being allowed to get back in the water.
    Hydotherapy is probably the best thing for you.
    ruffwater--hang in there. I am cheering for you from Seattle--one-handed, of course!

    I am out of the sling and bolster but still not sleeping great. Part of the problem is that I broke the elbow on the same arm in highschool. It was improperly put in a cast and now I can't straighten that arm. So lying on my back, my hand can't rest on the bed and my poor biceps (where the tendon got shortened a bit during the surgery also) can't "turn off".

    I still have not been in the pool yet. The trip to the pool is 6:30 to 10:00 PM on a PT day and I have been too tired to get myself going. I keep saying next week.

    I really miss endorphins,
    danielle

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