Not sure I need surgery yet

kayjaydee

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Hi, I'm new here. I've had problems with my left shoulder for some years, Xray and MRI show no cartilage left and some "wear" to the rotator cuff. I've been heading for replacement surgery, saw the consultant last week. He's not sure if he'd do the total repacement or the reverse in my case. But, as I went in, he said "how's the shoulder?" and I said "not too bad" - and he asked if I was sure I wanted to go ahead at the present time. Which set me thinking - is it advanced enough to need surgery? I don't generally have pain at rest or any significant pain at night, but there's pain on movement and some restriction of movement. It doesn't really restrict my life very much, other than not being able to lift much weight with my left arm, and not being able to pull strongly with it. So, I'm debating whether to cancel for now or not. Any advice?
 

djklaugh

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@kayjaydee Welcome to BoneSmart! :welome: The decision to have any joint replaced is a very personal one. The thing is, once a joint deteriorates it is NOT going to get better. And joints of any kind have an unhappy tendency to get really bad very quickly. Are you sure you are gauging your pain levels accurately? Some folks do tend to down play those. There is a thread here will an humorous though accurate pain scale for you to refer to: https://bonesmart.org/forum/threads/new-kind-of-pain-scale.52544/

I've had 2 shoulder replacements. The first was my right shoulder that was very painful day and night and severely limited my activities as it is my dominant side. The 2nd one was less painful but also restricted my activities (could not lift that arm more than a couple of inches from hanging straight down). Both of mine were standard replacements and each recovery period took about 6 months and did require diligent physical therapy. Now both are pain free and have pretty much full range of motion. The only things I can not do is the crawl stroke when swimming and hook a bra behind my back (front closure ones work just fine).

Do check out some of the threads over on the recovery side of shoulders to see how others have managed.
 
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kayjaydee

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The shoulder has been more painful the past few days, making me more inclined to go ahead with surgery. If I do decide to have the op, I have various questions....how difficult is washing and dressing when first home from hospital? What about meals - will I be able to butter bread and make sandwiches? How long will I have to wear oversized teeshirts and jogging bottoms? Will I need carers? - I live alone.
 

djklaugh

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@kayjaydee You will probably have your arm in a sling with a padded bolster on it to hold the shoulder at a particular angle. Usually you need to use that all the time except when bathing/showering and getting dressed. You will probably have to use this for at least 2-3 weeks or longer depending on your surgeon's instructions. When the sling is off you do need to be cautious not to move the shoulder very much ... but washing and dressing are not too difficult.

Yes you can use the operated on arm to hold things still while using the other one to spread butter, make a sandwich, and do other tasks. While it would be nice to have some one with you (hospital will insist you have a responsible adult drive you home - and they will not allow a taxi or Uber!) ... but you can manage alone if you really have no family member or friend who can come stay for a week or two. I had a cousin come for my first shoulder replacement and my brother and sister-in-law came for the 2nd one.

Fill up your freezer and fridge with easy to fix meals. Stock up on favorite snacks and comfort foods. Practice using the other arm to do things.

You will need physical therapy to get the shoulder fully functional ... that usually does not start until about 4-6 weeks after surgery ... other than a few gentle swing the arm exercises that you will be taught in the hospital.
 
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kayjaydee

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I'm reading posts about needing to sleep at 45 degrees....does this always apply? I have a recliner armchair, which I guess I could sleep in; also a bed wedge but that's either really steep or very shallow. Still thinking about clothes - what about nightwear? I could just go for one of the big teeshirts - any other suggestions?
 

djklaugh

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@kayjaydee Unless your surgeon says so I don't know of any requirement to sleep at a 45 degree angle. But yes sleeping after a shoulder replacement can be difficult as it is hard to find a comfortable position for the new shoulder. So reclining chair maybe your best option. I did use my recliner and also used strategically placed pillows to prop the shoulder and arm so it did not move much.

As for clothing ... anything easy on/easy off will work. Some prefer big tee shirts and some prefer button up the front shirts. What ever feels best to you and does not require too much struggle to fit arm shoulder into it. You might practice a bit pretending your bum shoulder is post-op and won't move much to see how to manage getting things on and off. Put bum arm/shoulder in to sleeve first then get the rest on. Fortunately that phase of things only lasts for a few weeks.
 

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