Care after Your Shoulder Arthroscopy
A date will be set for you to be seen in clinic for your work up before surgery. At the work up you will
meet with the nurse, physician assistant and possibly your doctor.
You will be given a sling and ice unit during your work up. Bring the sling and all parts of the ice
unit with you the day of the surgery.
For your surgery you will have a general anesthetic. You may also have a nerve block as part of your
anesthetic. The nerve block will make your shoulder and arm feel numb. This feeling may last for
several hours after surgery. The pain will be less while the nerve block is working (most often 12-18
hours after surgery). Remember to take your pain medicine during the night after surgery, so when the
feeling returns after the block has worn off, you will have less pain.
Dressing Care after Surgery
Dr. Baer and Dr. Dunn Patients
You will remove your shoulder dressing and ice unit pad after 2 days.
Check the incisions for signs of infection.
You may shower after 2 days when the dressing is removed. Let the water just run over the
incisions. Do not submerge the incisions under water for 3-4 weeks.
Put dry band-aids over incisions after showering.
No swimming, hot tub, or any type of water sports for 3-4 weeks unless you are told it is ok.
You should arrange for physical therapy to start after your surgery. Talk with the physician
assistant and your doctor about when to start.
You will be seen in the clinic 1 week after surgery. At this time your stitches will be taken out.
Dr. Scerpella Patients
You will remove your shoulder dressing and ice unit pad after 2-3 days.
Check the surgery sites for signs of infection.
You may shower once the dressing is removed.
Cover the incisions with Glad® Press’n Seal or water proof band aids when you shower. Tape
the edges down so water will not get under the plastic.
Once out of the shower, remove the plastic wrap and apply dry band aids over incisions. Use
gauze for larger incisions.
Keep the incisions dry until after the sutures are removed at your clinic visit.
You will be seen in clinic in 5-10 days.
You should arrange for a physical therapy appointment to follow your first post-op clinic visit
with Dr. Scerpella. Schedule this appointment as soon as you know your surgery date.
The appointment for physical therapy may be on the same date as your post-op clinic visit or a
few days thereafter.
Dr. Orwin Patients
You will be seen in clinic the day after surgery. At this time your shoulder dressing and ice unit
pad will be removed.
The stitches will be taken out of the small incisions. Small pieces of tape called steri-strips will
be put over these incisions. Band aids will be put over the steri-strips. Do not remove the steri-
strips. The steri-strips will be left on for two weeks.
You will change the band-aids daily.
You may shower after your dressing is changed in the clinic. Cover the incisions with Glad®
Press’n Seal while you shower. Tape the edges down so water will not get under the plastic.
You can shower without covering the incisions after 2 weeks.
After you shower put dry band aids over incisions.
Keep the incisions dry for 2 weeks.
No swimming, hot tub, or any type of water sports for 3 weeks unless you are told it is ok.
You should arrange for physical therapy to start after your surgery. Talk with your physician
assistant or nurse practitioner and doctor about when to start.
After your dressing is changed you will be seen again in clinic in 2 weeks.
Dr. Anderson Patients
ξ You will remove your shoulder dressing and ice unit after 3 days.
ξ Check the incision for signs of infection
ξ You may shower after 3 days when the dressing is removed. Cover the incisions with Glad
Press’n Seal or water proof band aids when you shower. Remove these dressings when you are
ξ Put dry band-aids over the incisions after showering.
ξ Do not submerge the incisions under water for 3-4 weeks, this includes pools, hot tubs, or any
other water activities.
ξ Please arrange physical therapy appointments in advance so they start after your surgery is
ξ You will be seen in clinic 1 week after surgery. At this time your stiches will be taken out.
Use the ice unit to help with swelling and pain. The ice unit can be run continuously through the first
night after surgery. If you get too cold you may turn the unit off for a few hours. The day after surgery
you will use the ice unit one hour on and at least one hour off as needed. You can use the ice unit as
often as you need the first 1-2 weeks. The ice unit will also help with pain after you have physical
Activity after Surgery
You need to rest as much as you can when you go home. This will help to make the swelling and pain
You will be told when to begin exercises. They may include
Hand grip exercises
Gentle elbow range of motion
Shoulder shrugs and neck circles
Pendulum and Codman exercises
Cane and pulley exercises
How long you will wear the sling will depend on what type of surgery you have.
Stay in the sling as you are told. Do not drive while you are in the sling or if you have had opioid pain
medicine in the last 24 hours.
When to Call the Doctor or Clinic
You have bleeding that does not stop by direct pressure.
Your fingers become pale, blue, or cool to touch.
Signs of infection
Your incision becomes red or warm to the touch or has foul smelling drainage.
Increased pain at the incision sites.
You have a fever over 100.5 θF for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
Please call if you have any questions or concerns.
If you are a patient of Dr. Baer, Dr. Dunn, Dr. Orwin or Dr. Scerpella, please call:
Sports Medicine Clinic
If you are a patient of Dr. Anderson, please call:
After hours call the clinic number and your call will be forward to the paging operator. Ask for the
orthopedic resident on call. Leave your name and phone number. The doctor will call you back.
24 Hour Toll Free Number
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6397.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical
advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are
different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an
emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
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