Understanding Shoulder Surgery

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, and is prone to injury. If you have a shoulder problem for which surgery is recommended, it is helpful to understand the process of undergoing shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery is divided into two main categories: open (through one incision) or arthroscopic (through several small incisions and with the use of a camera). Dr. Burns will recommend which type of surgery is right for your problem.

Before Surgery

Dr. Burns will help you prepare for surgery by talking to you about what is wrong with your shoulder and explaining the planned surgical procedure to you. Preoperative bloodwork and testing will be done if necessary to ensure you are healthy for surgery. Your medical doctor will be involved if necessary depending on your age and your overall health.

The Night Before Surgery

Remember to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. Take only the medications that the nurse instructs in the morning with a small sip of water. The Day of Surgery Arrive at the hospital or surgery center at the time given., which is usually 1-2 hours before your planned surgical procedure. You will be checked in by the staff, receive an IV, and medication to relax you. Most of my patients will receive a scalene block, which is an injection above the shoulder to numb the arm and reduce pain for the day of surgery. You will still go to sleep and receive a general anesthesia as well. This block reduces pain after the surgery.

After Surgery

You will arrive in the recovery room. If you have had an arthroscopy, this is an outpatient procedure and you will go home when you are awake and comfortable. If you have had a shoulder replacement or other inpatient procedure, you will go to your hospital room after you are awake and comfortable in the recovery room.

After Shoulder Arthroscopy

After shoulder arthroscopy, you will arrive in the recovery room. Your arm will usually be numb from the block for 12-18 hours after surgery. Once you are awake, comfortable, and have had a small amount to eat or drink, your family member will arrive to take you home.