The first 48 hours
After a short stay in the theatre recovery area you will return to the ward. Depending on the nature of your operation your arm may be held in position in a type of sling called a shoulder immobiliser.
You may have a ‘drip’ in your arm that ensures that you get plenty of fluids, as you are unable to take anything by mouth for a short time after the operation. Once you are able to eat and drink normally this ‘drip’ will be removed. This is usually on the first day after your operation.
Physiotherapy usually begins the day after your operation. Exercises continue, gradually increasing the movement until the range of movement required for discharge is achieved.
You will also have stitches in the wound and these are usually removed 10 – 14 days after the operation.
Many patients worry about how painful surgery will be and all staff understand this. It is usual to experience some discomfort and the staff will give you painkillers when you need them to help keep you comfortable. Everyone feels differently and it is important that you tell the nurses or physiotherapist if you are in pain especially with your exercises.
In some instances it is possible for you to be given a type of pain relief that enables you to control the amount of painkiller you receive yourself (Patient Controlled Analgesia). Further information about this is available on the ward, and will be explained to you if you are to given this. You will be monitored closely by the nursing staff after your operation and they will keep you comfortable.
Getting up and about
You will be able to get up the day after surgery and you may require an x-ray. Your surgeon and physiotherapist will decide exactly which exercises are required and when they can be started. Remember to keep elevating your arm when resting to prevent swelling.
What problems can occur?
No operation is without the risk of complication. Your surgeon and therapist will explain any particular risks/complications of your operation before surgery.
Swelling is common after surgery and might be treated by elevation.
Is the operation always successful?
The surgeon’s expectation of your operation will be discussed before surgery (usually when initially seen in out patients) so that you understand the likely result, and the risks/benefits of the proposed operation. This information must be taken into account when you make the decision to undergo surgery.
Your discharge from hospital
Your stay in hospital will usually vary depending on your progress. Once you have achieved the required range of movement and the physiotherapist is happy with your shoulder, you will be discharged home as soon as suitable arrangements can be made.
You will be required to attend for outpatient physiotherapy to continue with treatment and this will be arranged with you prior to your discharge home. Normally this will involve you returning as an outpatient to Freeman Hospital Physiotherapy Department.
Planning for going home begins as soon as you arrive in hospital, if you have any fears or concerns regarding discharge please discuss these with your named nurse.
Your named nurse will ask you and your carers about your social circumstances, this is just to ensure that you will be able to manage certain tasks when you go home such as washing, dressing and meal preparation.
If your named nurse feels you and your carer will require extra support she will discuss this with you and with your permission, arrange for you to discuss your needs with the hospital social worker and occupational therapist.
Please discuss your transport arrangements home with your named nurse before your day of discharge. It is possible in some instances to organise hospital transport, if required.
The day of your discharge
On the day of your discharge your named nurse will give you some things to take home with you, these will include:
A letter for your GP (in some instances this will be posted) This should be handed in to your GP by either a relative or friend on the next working day following your discharge.
Medication Any medication you have bought into hospital will be returned to you. You will also be given a 7-day supply of any new medications. The nurse will advise you on how and when to take these.
Outpatient Clinic Appointment You will be given an appointment to be reviewed in clinic, approximately two - six weeks after your surgery. If transport is required this can be done by yourself contacting your GP, providing a weeks notice where possible. If for any reason you are unable to attend your appointment please contact the outpatient department to rearrange the appointment. If your physiotherapist feel it necessary you will be given an outpatient physiotherapy appointment.
Care Plan If you have a care package arranged you would receive a copy of the care plan from the Social Worker before your discharge home. This is for your own information.
Discharge Record This provides details about your stay and is for your own information.
Patient information Please take home any written information given to you during your stay and please do not hesitate to use the contact numbers if you require any further advice.
Valuables Please ensure you have all your valuables with you.
General advice after discharge
Cars and Driving It is inadvisable to drive while wearing a cast, splint or restrictive bandage. Always check with your insurance company before starting to drive again. It is not the responsibility of your consultant to make this decision he will advise when he feels driving will cause you no harm.
Work How soon you are able to return to work will depend on the type of job you do. You should discuss this with your surgeon when you see him in the Outpatient Department.
Wound Care All dressings should be left undisturbed until your Consultant sees you in the outpatient clinic. Keep your wound dry until your stitches are removed by your GP’s Nurse.
Exercises Continue to do your exercises as instructed by the physiotherapist.
Pain Take your painkillers as prescribed. Do not take more than the stated dose. If you notice any increased pain, swelling or if your wound starts to ooze please contact your General Practitioner.
You will be followed up as an outpatient at regular intervals after your discharge from hospital. Please use this opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have. You are also welcome to call the ward for advice, following your discharge from hospital.