Needing helpful hints for Rotator Cuff surgery..

pammiesueJune 4, 2011

I will be having surgery to repair a tear on right shoulder in Aug. I have that feeling of impending doom...

Anyone had this? What did you find most helpful as far as dressing- what to wear, and how to get it on?, coping with all the things we take for granted being able to do, etc...

I really dread this, I keep thinking that I won't even be able to get my pants up and a laughing matter...


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Do you have anyone at home to help you? I would get a few "moo moo's", they would be easy to get on and off and be nice and cool to boot. My husband had this surgery several years ago and it wasn't pleasant for him the first week or so.. but I know someone who recently had one and the eupidural (sp) was left in for several days and they experienced very little pain. Wishing you the best and a quick recovery

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 4:36PM
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DH had this surgery.
His Ortho guy said for him to sleep in the recliner the first night. After that, I rolled a pillow and tied it to use as a bolster (so he wouldn't roll onto his shoulder sleeping.)
He wore sweat pants and a tshirt. Your arm is going to be in a sling for a long time, so plan accordingly. Your ease in dressing is going to be a must. Lots of "relaxed" clothes!
DH was sent home with a pain block and a disposable pain pump. Needless to say, they all wore off at the same time. Make sure to set a timer and stay on time with your pain pills for the first several days.
Heal fast, and be brave during PT..

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:09PM
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You will be able to pull up your pants with your other hand. I had two surgeries on my right arm. I learned to do many things with just my left hand. I even vacuumed.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:15PM
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believe is no fun...but ohhh so worth it...

I hope your left'll soon discover why after your first bathroom visit...applying makeup? forget it...washing your hair...I just washed it the best I could and let it drip dry...I had my house totally cleaned top to bottom, had lots of movies ready to watch...lots of books ready to read, my trusty laptop nearby, a portable phone and I lived in my little cave in the basement for the first couple of months...I was able to drive after about four weeks but forget adjusting the radio...LOL...I'd put the car key in...turn it on with my left hand, shift with my left hand and pray those first few times driving with one arm...

Take a huge t-shirt you can button up for the ride home...I took a shirt of my hubsters and wish I had taken a huge t-shirt...(the nurse nor my hubster couldn't button the shirt and I'm sure I gave the peeps in the car next to us quite a show on the ride home)...

Pain pills are your best friend...don't be afraid to use them...the first two weeks I was home I stayed pretty dosed up and had this wonderful apparatus that was a cooling pad attached to a tube that was attached to an ice bin...You filled it up with ice and it recirculated cold over my shoulder...keeping the swelling down is crucial...if your orthopedic Dr is like mine he's all about keeping you in the sling...I slept in it and the only time it was off was to take a shower...

After two weeks I started physical therapy...I was all about getting well so really pushed myself...I did lots of the exercises at home on the days when I wasn't going to therapy...I still do lots of the exercises to keep those muscles working and to avoid having to have the left shoulder done...for my job it's an 8 month recovery period...if you sit at a desk it's about a 6 week recovery period...unfortunately my job is very physically demanding and I all but begged to go back to work a month early! My doc told me I wouldn't be totally healed for 18 months and he was so was very tender for a long time but then one day it just didn't hurt anymore...

I loved my therapist guy, he's was the kind of guy you loved to hate cause he pushed you just so much and knew when to back off...their tens machine was wonderful, that deep massage really felt great...I went to therapy three times a week for 6 months and was there for almost 2 hours everytime!

I slept in a recliner chair for about 4 was too uncomfortable to lay down...I was so relieved when I could give up the sling and that was after about 3 months but it still hurt to lie down...I was so thrilled when I could fully recline...

It's been three years and I cant tell you how glad I am that I had the hurt so bad to even put on a t-shirt and my doc told me it was the worse shoulder tear repair he had ever done...He's my hero cause he fixed me up good as new...removed a bunch of arthritis, cut off bone spurs, put six pins in to build up my shoulder bone and i'm good to go...

and yes...YOU CAN GET YOUR PANTS UP AND DOWN with one arm...believe me I've been is something we all take for granted...and it makes me appreciate both arms all to much!!

Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to email me! I still need to have the left shoulder repaired but the idea of being strapped for another 8 months has kept me from it...

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:23PM
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Liz, I forgot all about the ICEMAN..My son had one from his knee surgery and loaned it to us. What a lifesaver!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:57PM
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I'm also having Rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder sometime in August. I'm worried about what clothes to wear home. I am too endowed to go bra-less. Any suggestions about adapting clothing to velcro ?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Fell back in Oct. 2002. Broke shoulder, dislocated shoulder and tore part of rotor cuff. Sooo the most comfortable thing I found for travel home from hospital was a pair of shorts, hospital shirt put on me right after accident at ER and a pair of tennis shoes. No bra, couldn't wear one, I am very large breasted, but you cann't worry about something you cann't wear. I slept in a recliner from Sept. till June of the next year. We had a waterbed and they are not easy to get in or out of with your left arm! We did end up buying a comfort number bed when I was able to come out of my recliner. When I was able I wore button down the front shirts and long pants with elastic waist (it does get cold herein the fall! ) You will find that your physical therapist is your best friend! I can say my husband was great in helping me with dressing and cooking. I had to learn how to write and eat with my left hand and still use my left hand a lot. Lots of luck.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:28PM
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I had shoulder surgery several years ago on my right side (I'm right handed). It wasn't for rotator cuff but rather for torn ligaments. My mom had rotator cuff surgery and I helped her through that. She stayed with me for 3 days until she was comfortable do things on her own at her home.

I worn extremely lose fitting tops that buttoned/snapped down the front and mostly elastic waisted pants - lose fitting - for easier up and down movement.

As the shoulder heals, massage it where they cut to break up any potential scar tissue that may form. If much of that builds up inside over time, it hurts. I'm constantly rubbing mine years after surgery. I know I have some tissue buildup in there, and it can be uncomfortable. Scar tissue can still form years later so stay on top of it. My PT told me he has patients come back for therapy after getting the scar tissue removed due to major build up from the initial surgery.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:00PM
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My husband had shoulder surgery in December(not rotator cuff). The recliner was his best friend. He slept there for two months. We were unsure what he could wear home from the surgery. He bought a very large button down shirt but they actually took his arm out of the sling at the surgery center and put his arm through the arm of the shirt and then put the sling back on him. He does not remember this. He had an ice pack hooked to a cooler of ice water which he had to wear for the first 3 days. I took some old t-shirts and cut them part way down the shoulder for him to wear at home. Surgery on left shoulder and left handed so easier to operate recliner. Never thought about it before but recliner levers are on the right side. Good luck with your surgery. Pain med required.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:30AM
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Oh boy - good luck with this. I have a bit of shoulder pain and diagnosed with impingement a while back. It doesn't really bother me and I sure hope it never requires surgery after reading about it here.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 11:35AM
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Thanks to everyone who has given me suggestions so far- I am still trying to figure out the process. I spent a month in the recliner with a fracture a couple years ago, and know it tooo well.
I have had the facing wall painted a different color, got rid of the rolltop desk, and put different pictures on the least this time I have some control over what I will be staring at...also got an ereader since I won't have both hands to hold and turn pages. I am gathering up necessities, chapstick, emery board, tape, pens (like I will be scribbling with my left hand...not...) and things like that in a basket next to chair.
I will have my husband fabricate some kind of handle that we can remove later to flip up the recliner. He can build anything..
I am still worrying about clothes, I have checked out the thrift stores for some 3x mens shirts, maybe I could "femimize" them a little. Haven't found any yet..will only need maybe 4-5, then should be able to use something else. I hope.
At least with some before time planning and help from my garden web friends, I should have this under control when it happens...
Now, if somebody would make me quit stress eating...I should get a couple 6-packs of SlimFast since I won't have my fork hand to feed me for a while...

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 11:54AM
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My sister had rotator surgery along with extensive surgery about 6 months ago and said it was a piece of cake, she had very little pain, more of annoyance...The main thing she found, ice...She was sent home with, what looked like a ice cooler with a long tube attached to the padding in her shoulder....Every 20 or so minutes, the padding would feel like it was melting and you'd twist the cap on this cooler and it would drain the water back into the cooler, then you'd lift the cooler up and the new icy water would fill up the padding around the surgery....She did this for a couple of days, had no swelling and no pain and didn't need to take any pain pills even after the block wore off....
Her hubby is a very large man and she took one of his button shirts to wear home from the hospital and then changed into a light shift...She had no problems what so ever and highly recommends having it done....
Just remember the ice, plenty of ice....(Of course you could always use it in a drink or 2, also)
Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:01PM
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Also, for the bra problem. You can either tuck one of your husbands large hankies underneath them to absorb sweat, or you can wear the bra on one shoulder only. I have arthritis in one shouler that was bad one winter. Could barely move the arm, let alone stand the pressure of the bra strap. I just tucked the strap for that side into the bra and wore it properly on the other side. Yes, you'll be a little lop sided, but who cares!

Wishing lots of luck with your surgery, healing and therapy.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:47PM
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I had right shoulder surgery a few years ago too; not for my rotator cuff, but for a tear. I had to wear a sling all day and night, except when I was in the tub, for 13 weeks. I wasn't allowed to drive until after that. DH would help me get my bra on and help me get dressed before he went to work. He would help me again at the end of the day. I wore shorts and pants with elastic waist to help with going to the b/r. You really do adjust to doing things with your other hand. I had pain pills but didn't take many at all, but I tend to have a high threshold for pain. I couldn't go back to work for 8 months though, I was surprised to find out... and I have a desk job! That surprised me!

When it's time to do the physio, commit yourself to it. It will really help you. Good luck with everything.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:24AM
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This "recipe" was given to us by his physical therapist when DH had his knee replaced. I was running back and forth to the store for bags of ice for the liquid cooler......

You can make your own cold pack:

Put 1 pint of rubbing alcohol and 3 pints of water in a 1-gallon, heavy-duty, plastic freezer bag. Seal the bag, and then seal it in a second bag. Mark it "Cold pack: Do not eat," and place it in the freezer. It will be slushy when frozen. Make up 3 or 4 so you always have one ready to go. They will sort of fizzle out after repeated freezing and using - you will be able to tell - just dump the contents and start over :-)


3 or 4 bags of frozen green peas and keep those in the freezer--label them "not for eating" if you have others in your family who might be doing some cooking. Use the bags of peas (you can wrap in a cloth, if you like) for an ice pack. When one thaws, put it back in the freezer, and grab another.

Of course, this was 15 years ago, so the cooler thing may have improved, but if not, the above is a lot easier.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 5:26AM
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