Shoulder Arthroscopic Decompression and Calcium excision:Post-operative instructions

Dressings:Water proof dressings will be applied in hospital, and you are welcome to shower. Remove dressings 8 days after surgery and if the wounds are dry, leave open.


Early mobilisation is important to avoid stiffness and scar formation. Start by:

  • Open and close your hand
  • Flexing and extending the elbow
  • Move the shoulder forwards, backwards and sideways with a bent elbow

Do each of these activities 10x every day for about 1 minute.

Sling: Eat and sleep without your sling. Don’t wear the sling in and around the house, but wear it when you go out. Wean yourself off the sling in 7-10 days.

Getting dressed: Use button-up shirts or blouses initially. First put the operated arm in the sleeve, followed by the other arm. Do in reverse when undressing.

Pain management: Take your pain medication regularly in the first 3-5 days, to allow for adequate pain relief and mobilisation. Take pain medication and sleep tablets at night, to allow for a good night’s rest. Patients are generally more comfortable, sleeping in a reclining chair, or with pillows propped behind the shoulder. Some difficulty with sleeping is common for 2-3 weeks after surgery. It is beneficial to have ice packs available, as this will help with post- operative swelling and pain control. Bags of frozen vegetables work very well. Never put ice directly on the skin, and rather cover it in a towel. Ice your shoulder 20 minutes out of every 1-2 hours when you are awake for the first 3-5 days.

Physiotherapy: Will commence 2 weeks post operatively.

Driving: Operating a motor vehicle, may be difficult due to your inability to use your operated arm. If you should have an accident, or get pulled over while wearing a sling, the authorities may consider it driving while impaired. The decision to drive is based on your comfort level, with driving essentially one handed. If you need to drive, you should wait at least until you have seen your doctor on your first post- operative visit. No one should operate a motor vehicle while taking narcotic medications.

Post-operative follow up visits: 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 5 months.

Symptoms to report immediately:

  • Excessive swelling not relieved by rest, elevation and ice. Excessive or unbearable pain (unable to sleep, eat or hold a conversation).
  • Itching, accompanied by hives, welts or a rash, which may be an allergic reaction
  • Flu-like symptoms (nausea, general body aches, chills or a temperature over 37,5 degrees), for longer than 24 hours, may be a sign of infection