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What Should You Expect After Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery?


Shoulder surgery is a minimally invasive surgery in which the shoulder cartilage, rotator cuff, and ligament is repaired with an arthroscope.

An arthroscope is a long instrument that contains a camera that your surgeon inserts into your shoulder to get a complete picture of any complications on joints and tissues that need to be repaired. The word Arthro means joint, and the instrument used to operate is called a scope, hence the name Arthroscope.

When should you go for arthroscopy?

Your doctor will advise that you go for arthroscopy or shoulder surgery if you have any problems on your shoulder that can damage the rotator cuff, the soft tissues, labrum, and the articular cartilage.

If you have any painful conditions that do not respond to non-surgical treatment, your doctor will recommend that you go for arthroscopy.

Some of the non-surgical treatments your doctor will always recommend are injections to reduce inflammations, physical therapy to reduce pain, and rest. If you have an injured sore joint, the inflammation will cause you much pain, swelling, and stiffness.

A standard arthroscopy procedure will often involve:

  • Repair of ligaments
  • Repair of rotator cuff
  • Repair of labrum if you have a recurrent shoulder dislocation
  • Removing loose cartilage or inflamed tissue

An arthroscope can also perform some standard procedures like cyst removal, loose body removal, and fracture repair. Shoulder replacement and other complicated systems will require a wider incision into your shoulder.

What to expect before surgery 

  • Pre-operative clearance: the doctor will perform all the necessary tests to affirm that you are fit for the shoulder surgery. The number of tests done will depend on your body condition. Your doctor will discuss all the risks involved in the surgery and provide instructions you should follow.
  • Surgery day: You should avoid drinking and eating anything after midnight to your surgery.
  • Anesthesia: the anesthetist will prescribe a combination of drugs that will keep you asleep while the surgery is perfumed on your arm. Your shoulder will be numb, and you won’t feel anything during the surgery.
  • Postoperative recovery: you will wake up in the hospital’s postoperative area feeling nauseated. This is a normal feeling that should go away in some hours. You should expect to go home the same day you are operated.

What you should expect once the surgery is over

  • You will feel dizzy and unsettled immediately after the surgery. All you have to do is relax to speed up recovery.
  • You will feel nauseous after the surgery as the anesthesia effect fades away.
  • You can walk to some point. Dressing and standing may be complicated after some time, but things will get better as you heal.
  • Take your pain medication before the nerve blockers go away.
  • You will experience discomfort and swelling in the shoulder a week after the surgery
  • Keep the postoperative dressings dry and clean once your doctor discharges you from the hospital.


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