Finding a comfortable sleeping position after a shoulder arthroscopy is actually much easier than it was before the surgery. At Olsen Orthopedics in Oklahoma City, OK, our expert staff regularly care for patients with shoulder problems, and we are committed to your comfort. Below we reveal everything you need to know about the arthroscopic procedure, including our top four tips for sleeping after arthroscopic surgery.
What Is a Shoulder Arthroscopy?
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses a tiny fiber-optic camera to view or repair shoulder cartilage, ligaments, or rotator cuffs. The tiny camera used for this surgery is called an arthroscope, which is where the procedure gets its name.
Components of this specialized camera include a tiny lens, light source, and video camera. The arthroscope attaches to a television camera that projects imagery on a larger screen to allow surgeons to see tissues and the shoulder joint.
Which Shoulder Problems Need an Arthroscopy?
Shoulder problems are among the most frustrating we can experience because they severely limit the range of motion. We often don’t realize how much we rely on this range of motion until a problem arises. Problems such as inflammation, injury, or simple wear and tear can create pain and stiffness that negatively impacts the ability to perform routine tasks in daily life.
Some shoulder problems improve with the use of non-surgical approaches like medication and physical therapy; however, non-surgical means don’t always offer relief. When medication and physical therapy do not improve the discomfort and range of motion sufficiently, we often recommend a shoulder arthroscopy to our patients.
Deciding on Treatment
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Olsen, performs arthroscopy procedures for a variety of shoulder problems. The arthroscopic procedure allows him to examine the shoulder and surrounding areas most efficiently. Although surgery is never the first line of defense against shoulder problems, it is the best option when pain and mobility do not improve after other treatments.
When improvement does not occur with non-surgical treatments, we may recommend arthroscopy for the following shoulder conditions:
- Bicep tendon tearing or damage
- Cartilage ring (labrum) tearing or damage
- Clavicle arthritis
- Frozen shoulder
- Instability (pervasive dislocation)
- Loose tissue removal
- Rotator cuff tearing, inflammation or bone spur
- Shoulder joint infection debridement and drainage
- Shoulder stiffness
Not every patient receiving a diagnosis of one of these conditions will require arthroscopic surgery. There also may be other conditions not listed that could require an arthroscopy to treat.
We evaluate each patient individually, and no two individuals have the same treatment needs. The only way to determine if arthroscopy is right for you is to schedule an appointment with us. During your appointment, we will assess your symptoms and conditions to make the best judgment for treatment.
Is Shoulder Arthroscopy a Major Surgery?
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that we usually performed on an outpatient basis. The surgery can last anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on the individual’s condition. Besides the surgery duration, there is a mandatory post-operative rest period that can double the time spent in our care. After the rest period, most patients are free to go home on the same day as their surgery.
What Are the Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery?
In the past, open surgery was the only way to gain access to the tissue surrounding the shoulder and the joint itself. Arthroscopy offers several benefits over traditional open surgery, which makes it the preferred choice at Olsen Orthopedics. Examples of the many benefits of arthroscopic surgery over open surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Faster healing
- Faster recovery
- Less scarring
- Outpatient release
Modern technology makes arthroscopic possible, and we use it for an array of shoulder problems. Although we always prefer to use this method, it isn’t possible for every shoulder condition. Shoulders with a lot of damage may require open surgery; but whenever suitable, we choose arthroscopic surgery.
What’s the Shoulder Arthroscopy Procedure?
Once you and your doctor determine that arthroscopic surgery is necessary to treat your shoulder problem, the preparation for your procedure begins. There are several steps you must follow before the procedure to ensure the most successful results.
Before Arthroscopic Surgery
Before your surgery, you must undergo a full physical examination that may include blood testing and X-rays. Your doctor will also ask you about any medication you are taking.
Medications and Nutrition
Sometimes you might need to stop taking certain medicines before surgery. Follow all instructions about taking or discontinuing the medication. You must stop taking aspirin, warfarin, and any anti-inflammatory medications at least one week before surgery, because they can thin the blood. We also recommend that you eat a nutritious diet and add a multivitamin with iron to your daily routine.
Preparations for Surgery
You must organize someone to drive you to and from surgery. You will not be able to drive for 24 hours after the surgery due to the anesthesia used in the procedure.
Other preparatory measures before surgery include making accommodations in your home that will help you maneuver the space after surgery. Placing frequently used items in easy-to-reach locations and removing obstructions like electrical cords and loose carpets are some good ways to prepare for your operation.
Day of Surgery
We will provide you with specific instructions to follow on the day of surgery. This information includes when you must stop eating and drinking. This time varies depending on the time of your surgery. On the day of your procedure, take any drugs we’ve approved you to take before surgery with only a tiny sip of water. You’ll also feel better and more confident if you’re able to arrive a little early for your procedure.
The Arthroscopic Procedure
You will likely have general anesthesia, which promotes sleep during the procedure. Sometimes, we may use local anesthesia on the shoulder area. Local anesthesia will not cause sleep, but we may give you another medication to help you rest.
Once we’ve given you anesthesia, the procedure begins. The first step is making small incisions to insert the arthroscope. When the arthroscope is inside the body, we view the shoulder joint, tissues, and surrounding areas. We pump a sterile solution into the joint so it expands. Expanding the joint allows Dr. Olsen to see the area most clearly and creates space for him to work.
Dr. Olsen repairs any torn tissue or removes damaged tissue through another incision portal. We use different procedures to repair individual shoulder problems. In some cases, we may need to attach suture anchors or shave bone spurs.
Once we’ve made all repairs, we close the small incisions with stitches and bandage the area. After surgery, you’ll have the opportunity to rest for an hour or more for observation. Once our trained medical staff clears a discharge, you are free to return home.
What Can I Expect After Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery?
Dr. Olsen provides you with detailed aftercare instructions to follow after your surgery. These instructions include dos and don’ts for physical activity and exercise. We will schedule a follow-up visit with you seven to ten days after your surgery.
It’s normal to experience a slight swelling of the shoulder after the surgery. Swelling should subside within a week. To reduce swelling, place ice-packs on the area for 20 minutes at a time whenever necessary.
Recovery from arthroscopic surgery for the shoulder depends on the individual and the amount of damage repaired in surgery. Some patients feel ready to resume regular activity after one month, while others need six months to recover fully.
During the first week, we typically recommend that you keep your arm in a sling to reduce pressure on the joint and surrounding tissues. We advise you on the medication to take and may recommend physical therapy, depending on your circumstances.
How Should I Sleep After Shoulder Arthroscopy?
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our arthroscopic surgery patients is: How should I sleep after the procedure?
Attempting to sleep flat on your back is usually one of the most uncomfortable positions after receiving arthroscopic surgery. Not only does it put pressure on the shoulder, but it creates a lot of strain when you try to get up.
We recommend finding a way to recline during sleep. Our patients find comfort in using reclining armchairs, adjustable beds, or even a stack of pillows that raise the body to a 45-degree angle. Some companies make pillows designed to elevate the body, and these are available for purchase online. Find the reclining solution for sleep that is most comfortable for you.
2. Take Approved Medication Before Bed
We work with you to mitigate discomfort caused by surgery and inform you of approved over-the-counter medications or otherwise. Always take medication as directed. Taking medication shortly before you want to go to sleep can help you rest easier throughout the night.
3. Wear a Sling
Although it may seem like the sling would feel uncomfortable during sleep, it is one of the best ways to enhance your comfort. Wearing your sling reduces the amount of pressure to the area while preventing you from unintentionally moving your arm into a straining position during sleep.
4. Invest in a Cold or Ice Therapy Unit for Shoulders
A cold or ice therapy unit is a cold compress that fits around your shoulder to offer relief. A cold or ice therapy unit is like an ice-pack, but it fits the area of the shoulder, so you need not hold it in place. Many of our patients find this purchase to be well worth the investment because it helps them fall asleep after arthroscopic surgery.
About Olsen Orthopedics
At Olsen Orthopedics, we are proud to serve the Oklahoma City area, and Dr. Olsen is committed to offering the best care and support to patients. Dr. Olsen specializes in the treatment of shoulder and knee pain, joint replacement surgery, sports injuries, and fracture care. His dedication ensures that every patient receives the personal attention they deserve.
Our highly skilled and professional team at Olsen Orthopedics work together to bring all our patients superior orthopedic treatment services. We operate from a state-of-the-art facility with the most advanced surgical technology and techniques to help you swiftly and safely return to your active lifestyle.
Contact Olsen Orthopedic in the Oklahoma City Area
When your shoulder isn’t responding to non-surgical treatments, a shoulder arthroscopy may be the best option to regain the range of motion vital to your wellbeing. This minimally invasive surgery is a fast and effective way to treat a variety of shoulder conditions that are not responsive to other treatments. Although sleeping after arthroscopic surgery requires a little preparation, it is possible to find a comfortable position.
For more information about arthroscopic surgery for shoulder problems or to schedule an appointment, contact us at Olsen Orthopedics in Oklahoma City, OK.