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Arthroscopic Surgery for Shoulder Instability: Before Your Surgery

The shoulder

What is arthroscopic surgery for shoulder instability?

Arthroscopic surgery for shoulder instability repairs a shoulder that is unstable and slips in and out of its socket. This can cause pain. It can also limit how well you can move your shoulder.

To do the surgery, the doctor puts a lighted tube through small cuts (incisions) in your shoulder. The tube is called an arthroscope or scope. Next, the doctor puts some surgical tools in the scope to help make needed repairs. Then he or she stitches the incisions closed. You will have scars, but they usually fade with time.

Most people go home the same day of the surgery. You will wear a sling for a few weeks.

You may be able to do easy daily activities in 2 to 3 weeks. Just don't use your affected arm. Most people who work at desk jobs can go back to work at this time. But if you lift, push, or pull at work, you will probably need 3 to 4 months off.

Most people can start to do activities that have a low risk of shoulder injury in about 3 months. Jogging is one example. If you play sports, training may also start at this time. Most baseball or softball players can start to toss a ball lightly. But it may take 6 to 12 months to return to normal throwing. How long it takes depends on how damaged your shoulder was. It also depends on how well your rehabilitation (rehab) program goes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 3 hours.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter B569 in the search box to learn more about "Arthroscopic Surgery for Shoulder Instability: Before Your Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.