Arm & Wound Care: You will be provided with a sling and shown how to apply this. The main bulky dressing will be removed in 2-4 hours. You will leave the hospital with a “shower resistant” dressing which should be left undisturbed until checked by the practice nurse after 2 weeks or so unless there is a problem. The sling has easily adjustable velcro straps and you will be shown how to look after this. The sling may be discarded after the specified period.
Sleeping: During the first week I recommend that you sleep with your sling on. The aim is to prevent the elbow going behind the level of the body when you lie down flat to prevent shoulder extension .Lie down flat with pillow or cushion supporting the elbow or lie on the non-operated side with pillows supporting the arm in sling. Some patients prefer to sleep on a recliner or sleep in the bed with the arm supported with pillows. Try and get a position which will keep the elbow in front of the body line as any extension of the arm at shoulder can be painful.
Daily activities: You will not be able to use the arm comfortably to get dressed, eat, lifting or to hold objects during the first 1-2 weeks which may limit your independence. Please make sure that you are safe and have someone to look after you. Discuss any special needs with physiotherapist, nurse or occupational therapist prior to discharge. By carefully positioning the arm you can clean under your arm pit. Ensure that you are wearing comfortable clothing.
Driving: It may be up to 6 weeks before you are safe to drive. The ability to drive will also depend on your car, the side of the operation, type of operation done, automatic or manual gear box, ease of power steering and ease of applying the hand brake etc. Check using a stationary vehicle whether you can reach the controls including indicators etc are easily and safely. Attempt the maneuvers that one would do when taking the driving test to make sure that you can control the car safely. You may also need to inform the insurance company of the operation depending upon the
contract you have with them. Ultimately the decision regarding driving safely lies with you and I can give you advice regarding how long you need to protect you shoulder.
Work: Your return to work will depend on the type of job you have. A simple desk job that does not involve lifting may be possible within 2 weeks; but remember you need to get there and you will not be able to drive. Heavy manual work may require 8 to 12 weeks off.
Leisure activities: The period of rest would depend on the level of activity. It may be possible to commence cycling , jogging and gentle swimming after 4 weeks. However, using the arm for racquet sports may need 3 months of rehabilitation. We recommend not taking part in contact sports for at least 3 months in order to maximize the success rate of the operation. Please discuss any specific needs with the physiotherapist or the consultation.