Message from your doctor…
Whether you or one of your family members or friends is considering shoulder distal clavicle resection, or are scheduled for surgery, I understand this can be a stressful time. You may have forgotten some of the information we discussed during our last visit, or forgot to ask me a specific question about what to expect. This site is designed to help us stay connected, and to answer some of the most common questions patients ask me about shoulder arthroscopy.
I want to make sure that both you and your family members have timely information at your fingertips during the days, weeks, and months following your surgery…so you can get back to enjoying the activities you love.
You will receive your prescription for pain medication before you leave the surgery center. Please take the medication(s) as directed. After the first day or two, as the pain lessens, you may decrease the frequency with which you take the medication. Remember, the medications are not necessarily meant to completely eliminate your pain, only to make it more bearable.
Narcotic pain medications can cause constipation; you may wish to use an over-the-counter stool softener to help prevent this.
Use ice or a cold therapy unit constantly for the first 48 hours, then as frequently as needed.
You will have a soft dressing applied over your incisions. It is meant to absorb any leaking blood or fluid from the joint, and to protect from infection. Leakage immediately after surgery is normal and actually helps to drain some of the fluid that accumulates in the joint during surgery. The dressings may become moist or blood-stained; this is normal and usually not a cause for alarm.
You may remove your dressing 48 hours after your surgery to take a shower. For showering, you may remove your entire sling and let your arm rest at your side. Under the surgical dressing, you may have steri-strips over your incisions (small white strips of tape). Please leave them in place until they fall off on their own or until they are removed at your first post-op appointment. You have absorbable sutures (under the skin)- nothing needs to be removed. You may let soap and water gently wash over your incisions, but do not scrub them. Pat them dry with a towel, then recover each of the incisions with a band-aid if desired. You may not soak your shoulder in a bathtub or go into a pool or hot tub until incisions are well healed (usually takes a few weeks).
Therapy typically starts within 1 week after surgery. If you are going to a facility other than ATI, please ask your therapist to visit www.healthy-txt.com/drmehta for Dr. Mehta’s protocols. Most patients go to physical therapy 2-3x/week for about 4-6 weeks.
WHEN TO CALL
Please call our office at (630) 584-1400 if you develop a fever greater than 101°F, increasing pain that is not responding to pain medication, redness around incisions or shoulder, increased swelling, persistent bleeding or drainage, or drainage other than clear fluid or blood. If it is after hours, the answering service will contact the physician assistant on call.
It is normal to develop bruising to the operative arm. Some people have bruising across the chest all the way down to the hand. It can also be normal to develop swelling to the arm and hand. Gravity tends to pull fluid down the arm- your body will be able to reabsorb this fluid but it may take a few weeks. If the swelling becomes increasingly painful and more tender to the touch, please let our office know.
You will be receiving a post-operative phone call from the surgical staff within a few days after surgery to check on you and assist you with any concerns.
You may drive once you have stopped the narcotic pain medication and can comfortably move your shoulder. You should not wear a sling while driving.
Because your surgery did not require a “repair,” the sling is only for comfort. It may be removed whenever you are comfortable. Most patients wear the sling for 3 days. It does not need to be worn while sleeping.
RETURN TO WORK
This depends on the nature of your job. If you have a desk job or can work from home, you may be able to do computer/phone work within 1 week of surgery. If you have a labor-intense job, or job that requires heavy lifting/repetitive use of your shoulder, you may need to be off work for at least 1 month. We can give you work restriction notes at each post operative visit if necessary.
MOST COMMON QUESTIONS
DISTAL CLAVICLE RESECTION
How should I be using my sling?
Because your surgery did not require a “repair,” the sling is only for comfort. It may be removed whenever you are comfortable. Most patients wear the sling for 3 days. It does not need to be worn while sleeping. You should not wear a sling while driving.
What motions should I avoid?
Because there was no “repair” done to your shoulder, you may move your shoulder as tolerated. Expect reaching overhead or across your body to cause pain immediately after surgery. Your motion will be progressed in physical therapy.
When can I drive?
You may drive once you feel comfortable moving the shoulder without pain and you are not taking any narcotic pain medications. Most patients wait 1-2 weeks to drive.
How should I be sleeping?
Please try to wear the sling while you are sleeping for at least a few nights, for comfort. Sometimes it is more comfortable to sleep upright (in a recliner chair) for a few days to weeks after surgery- this is optional.
What about pain medications?
Take the narcotic medication regularly for at least the first few days after surgery. If you have having minimal pain and would like to switch to a milder medication, please take Tylenol/acetaminophen (extra strength or regular). Do not take Tylenol and norco together (this would be too much acetaminophen). Do not exceed more than 4000mg of Tylenol/acetaminophen in a 24 hour period.
How can I learn more about shoulder arthritis and other common shoulder problems?
We know you are eager to return to your sports and hobbies. We want to guide you safely through that process. Please use the following as a guide.
1 week post-op: Putting
1 month post-op: If you have full and comfortable motion, you may take full swings with your irons and may progress to your driver as tolerated
1 month post-op: jogging, light dribbling drills
2 months post-op: All activity as tolerated
1 month post-op: Once your incisions are well healed (usually 3-4 weeks) then you may get into a pool. Then you may progress swimming as tolerated
1 week post op: You may do lower body and core exercises as tolerated.
Please follow the instructions of your physical therapist for upper body exercise. Once you are nearing the end of physical therapy (typically 3 months post-op), your therapist can create a safe “return-to-lifting” program. Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers can outline a specific plan for you.
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