First Week After Surgery

Rotator Cuff Repair

Post Operative Instructions

Pain Control

You will be given pain medicine prescriptions at your preoperative visit. Make sure you fill the prescription before your surgery. Most patients have a nerve block placed by anesthesia before surgery. This will keep your shoulder pain free for 6-10 hours after your surgery. As soon as you feel any return of sensation in your arm, start taking your pain medicine every 4 hours. You can also take ibuprophen 600mg (3 pills) every 8 hours to help control your pain in addition to the narcotic pain medicine IF you do not have any kidney problems. Apply ice to your shoulder for 20 minutes (not directly on the skin), take the ice off for 20 minutes, then reapply. Keeping the ice on the shoulder without a break can damage your skin.

If you have nausea, then you should take the hydroxyzine pill at the same time that you take your narcotic pain medicine.

If the Percocet (oxycodone) is not controlling your pain, you can take the Dilaudid (hydromorphone) pills until the pain is better controlled. Start with one pill every 4 hours and increase to 2 pills every 4 hours if the pain is still severe. Do not expect the pain medicine to take away all of your pain. The pain medicine should take away enough pain to allow you to sleep and perform basic activities during the day. After the first few days, you should be taking the pain medicine less frequently than every 4 hours.

Burning and tingling is commonly felt after shoulder surgery. It will improve with time.

Sleeping is made easier if you sleep in a recliner or with a pillow behind your back to sleep at an incline.

Swelling and bruising in the arm is common. This occurs because the swelling that occurs around the shoulder will move with gravity towards your elbow, wrist and hand. Your fingers may feel cold or look discolored. As long as you can move all your fingers, do not be alarmed. Squeeze your hand five times an hour to decrease the swelling.

Reasons to Call the Office Immediately
  • If you have redness around your incisions or down your arm.
  • Your incisions are draining fluid 4 days after surgery.
Wound and Dressing Care

You can take your dressing off two days after surgery. Leave the white strips of tape on the skin. If the incision is dry, leave it open to air. If the incision is wet, then cover it with a bandaid or gauze. Change the dressing everyday until it is dry. Then leave open to air. You can shower and get the incision wet if it has been dry for 2 days. If not, cover the incisions to take a shower. Do not put any soap around the incisions or scrub the incisions for a week.

Return to Work

You should be able to return to work on light duty 1-2 weeks after your surgery. If you have an automatic transmission, you can drive as long as you are not taking narcotic pain medicine and you use the arm that did not undergo surgery to control the car.

If you have a job that requires lifting or over the shoulder activity, then you will have to complete a physical therapy program for several weeks before returning to work at regular duty. You may need to complete a work hardening program if your job requires heavy labor or repetitive overhead activity.

Follow These Precautions
  • Keep your arm in the sling at all times for 6 weeks except to shower and dress.
  • No reaching, lifting or pushing with your arm.
  • Keep your elbow by your side. Do not move your elbow away from your side to put on a shirt or deodorant without holding the arm with your other hand. Do not pull up your pants with that arm.
  • Squeeze your hand ten times every hour. Moving the muscles in your forearm will help pump away the swelling in your arm.
  • Take your arm out of the sling to bend your elbow three times a day. Use your good hand to support your hand while bending the elbow.
Call Dr. Michael Codsi, MD at (425) 339-5447 for questions or concerns.

If you are unable to reach your doctor at the above number, call the answering service at
(425) 258-9000 (after hours and weekends).

Shoulder Surgery

Post Operative Instructions

Pain Control

You will be given pain medicine prescriptions at your preoperative visit. Make sure you fill the prescription before your surgery. Most patients have a nerve block placed by anesthesia before the surgery. This will keep your shoulder pain free for 6-10 hours after your surgery. As soon as you feel any return of sensation in your arm, start taking your pain medicine every 4 hours. You can also take ibuprophen 600mg (3 pills) every 8 hours to help control your pain in addition to the narcotic pain medicine IF you do not have any kidney problems. Apply ice to your shoulder for 20 minutes (not directly on the skin), take the ice off for 20 minutes, then reapply. Keeping the ice on the shoulder without a break can damage your skin.

If you have nausea, then you should take the hydroxyzine pill at the same time that you take your narcotic pain medicine.

If the Percocet (oxycodone) is not controlling your pain, you can take the Dilaudid (hydromorphone) pills until the pain is better controlled. Start with one pill every 4 hours and increase to 2 pills every 4 hours if the pain is still severe. Do not expect the pain medicine to take away all of your pain. The pain medicine should take away enough pain to allow you to sleep and perform basic activities during the day. After the first few days, you should be taking the pain medicine less frequently than every 4 hours.

Burning and tingling is commonly felt after shoulder surgery. It will improve with time.

Sleeping is made easier if you sleep in a recliner or with a pillow behind your back to sleep at an incline.

Swelling and bruising in the arm is common. This occurs because the swelling that occurs around the shoulder will move with gravity towards your elbow, wrist and hand. Your fingers may feel cold or look discolored. As long as you can move all your fingers, do not be alarmed. Squeeze your hand five times an hour to decrease the swelling.

Reasons to Call the Office Immediately
  • If you have redness around your incisions or down your arm.
  • Your incisions are draining fluid 4 days after surgery.
Wound and Dressing Care

You can take your dressing off two days after surgery. Leave the white strips of tape on the skin. If the incision is dry, leave it open to air. If the incision is wet, then cover it with a bandaid or gauze. Change the dressing everyday until it is dry. Then leave open to air. You can shower and get the incision wet if it has been dry for 2 days. If not, cover the incisions to take a shower. Do not put any soap around the incisions or scrub the incisions for a week.

Return to work

You should be able to return to work on light duty two weeks after your surgery. If you have an automatic transmission, you can drive as long as you are not taking narcotic pain medicine and you use the arm that did not undergo surgery to control the car.

If you have a job that requires lifting or over the shoulder activity, then you will have to complete a physical therapy program for several weeks before returning to work at regular duty. You may need to complete a work hardening program if your job requires heavy labor or repetitive overhead activity.

Follow These Precautions
  • Squeeze your hand ten times every hour. Moving the muscles in your forearm will help pump away the swelling in your arm.
  • Take your arm out of the sling to bend your elbow a few times a day. Two days after surgery you can stop wearing the sling if your pain is OK.
  • You can move your arm away from your body for basic activities, but no lifting more than 5 lbs with your arm.
Call Dr. Michael Codsi, MD at (425) 339-5447 for questions or concerns.

If you are unable to reach your doctor at the above number, call the answering service at
(425) 258-9000 (after hours and weekends).

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