What kind of surgery?

  • Debridement (cleaning out) the painful, arthritic joint at the end of the collarbone
  • Debridement of a wound or removal of a skin lesion (ex: Lipoma)

For a smooth recovery, do your homework before surgery:

  • Talk to your employer about your plans to return to work with restrictions or part-time at first.
  • Respect the healing process; it takes time. Let the inside of your shoulder settle down while you restore mobility.

For the first 2-3 days:

Controlling the Pain: The novocaine inside your shoulder will keep it numb for 8-12 hours after surgery.

    • The sling: You only need to wear it for comfort to support the weight of your forearm when you’re up and around. You can take it off if you’re resting or sleeping, or if you feel like you don’t need it. Rest your hand in your pocket to take weight off the shoulder.
    • How to sleep comfortably: If it hurts to lie flat, sleep in a reclining chair, or with a large wedge-shaped pillow supporting your whole back.
      • Keep a small pillow behind your upper arm to lift your elbow forward; rest your forearm on your tummy.
      • Don’t rest your elbow on an armrest, or anything that pushes up on the shoulder.
    • Place a LARGE ice pack around your shoulder 20 minutes every 3-4 hours. Fill 2 gallon-sized zippered plastic bags with ice cubes, or buy several LARGE gel-packs that you can rotate through the freezer.
    • Medication:
      • Take your pain medicine (usually Hydrocodone [Vicodin] or Oxycodone [Percocet]) as prescribed for the first 2-3 days, then cut back as you feel better.
      • Switch to over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol), 500mg, up to 2 tabs, 3 times a day after this runs out.
      • Anti-Inflammatories: Along with the pain medicine or acetaminophen, you can also take:
        _____Over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil) OR naproxen (Aleve) according to package instructions.
        _____Your prescription anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed:___________________________________
        _____Do NOT take any anti-inflammatory medication because of your other medical issues
      • If Antibiotics were prescribed:_________________________________________________________________


      • Move your neck, elbows, wrists, fingers 10 times, 3 times a day. Squeeze a rubber ball to pump your hand.
      • You can use your hand for light activities like holding a toothbrush or a pencil, buttering toast or light typing. Lifting 1-2 pounds with your elbow near the body is OK. Don’t overdo it.
      • Gradually increase how much, and for how long, you use your arm…use your symptoms as a guide.
      • Start your exercises on the first day after surgery. Begin slowly and you’ll improve day by day.
      • Wear shirts that button up the front. Treat your shoulder with respect, but realize it’s not fragile.

Care of the dressing:

      • For the first 2 days, leave the dressing in place. Tuck a dry washcloth under your armpit to absorb sweat.
      • The dressing is waterproof, so you can take a shower.
      • Some blood and novocaine might leak from the incision for a few days. Don’t be alarmed if it soaks through the bandage. Reinforce the dressing with extra gauze pads or a clean wash cloth if needed.
      • On the second day after surgery, remove the dressing.
      • Apply a light dressing to absorb any additional drainage and protect the wound from rubbing on your clothes.
      • You can leave the wound open to the air while resting if it’s dry.
      • DO NOT REMOVE THE PAPER TAPES FOR 2 WEEKS. You can get the paper tapes wet in the shower briefly. Pat them dry and apply a light dressing to protect the tapes under your clothes.

For the next 3-14 days:

      • Switch from ice to warm compresses if it feels better.
      • You can cut your pain medication dose as you feel better: cut the pills in half, or take them less often.
      • You might have a lot of bruising around your shoulder and chest. Warm compresses and gentle exercise will help.
      • It’s OK to drive after 1-2 weeks IF you can safely control your car. Use common sense.

The priority is to restore your range-of-motion without resistance.

Pendulums: A relaxing way to keep your shoulder from getting stiff.

  • Bend forward at your hips, use a table for support. Let your arm hang down, relaxed.
  • Gently sway back and forth, then in a circle, to let your arm swing North-South, East-West, Clockwise, Counter-clockwise.
  • Do 10 arcs in each direction, 3 times a day. The arcs will get bigger each day.
  • Rest your forearm on a table; walk your fingers across the tabletop for a slow count of 10 as you bend forward at the hips.
  • Then, sit up and slide your elbow back toward you body.
  • Do 10 repetitions, 3 times a day, to the front and side. You’ll reach further each day.
Neck Range-of-Motion: Many shoulder muscles also attach to the neck.

  • Sit or stand up straight: head high, shoulders back, stomach in.
  • Slowly lower your chin to your chest, and then tip it back toward the ceiling: 10 times, 3-5 times a day.
  • Tilt your head to the right, then left; Turn your head right, then left:10 times, 3-5 times a day

Keep Everything Limber:

  • Move both elbows, wrists and fingers 10 times, 3-5 times/day.
  • Squeeze a rubber ball gently to pump the swelling out of your hand.
  • Take a walk, ride a stationary bike or do other lower-body exercises for up to 20-30 minutes each day.

At your 2-week postop visit:

      • We’ll check your range-of-motion. You should be able to: lift your arm almost overhead (with help from your other arm!), reach your hand to your back pocket, and be comfortable lifting 3-5 pounds near the body.
      • Most patients rehab on their own after minor shoulder surgery, others need to attend Physical Therapy.
      • We’ll talk about your plans to return to work, and what you can expect from your shoulder in the future.

What are some problems to watch out for?

    • Some patients get very constipated after surgery. If you are nauseated and/or don’t have a bowel movement within 2-3 days postop: drink plenty of water or fruit juice, try over-the-counter laxative like Senokot, go for a walk.
    • You’re having extreme pain that’s not relieved with rest, proper positioning or your prescribed medication.
    • You’re having a fever over 101.5, or your arm is hot, red and very painful.
    • You’re having problems with prescribed medications, with the dressing, or with any issue about your recovery that can’t wait until your follow-up visit.
    • Call the office: 585-271-4272 (or for emergencies after-hours: Dr. Siegrist’s cell phone 585-329-3308.