Discharge Information

Pain relief & medication

The nursing staff will advise you about painkillers before you leave the hospital. Please tell the nurses what painkilling tablets you have at home.

Getting back to normal

Remember that you have just had an operation. It is normal to feel more tired than usual for a few days after having an operation.

Your shoulder or elbow is likely to be uncomfortable in the first few days post-surgery. This is normal but can be helped by;

  • Using ice on your elbow for 15 minutes, 2 times per day or after exercise and therapy. Gel packs, frozen peas or a plastic pack of ice can be used. These must be wrapped in a moist towel as direct contact with the skin can cause burns (cover your dressings with cling film or a plastic bag to prevent them getting wet).
  • Sleeping can be uncomfortable if you try and lie on your operated arm. We would recommend that initially you lie on your back or on the opposite side. If you lie on your back support the operated arm with a folded pillow under your lower arm. Make sure that your elbow is above your shoulder. If you are on your side then a folded pillow supports your operated arm from your elbow to your wrist.
  • Posture can make a significant difference to your pain post surgery. Avoid ‘hitching’ your shoulder or holding it in an elevated position. Also try to avoid slumping or standing/sitting with round shoulders.
  • In the first few days after surgery you will find it helps to support your arm on pillows with your elbow in front of your shoulder and slightly out to the side when you are sitting down (see picture).

Your physiotherapist will give you further guidance to optimize your recovery. Rehabilitation is an essential component of your recovery to re-educate the muscle.

It is important to remember that the majority of patients get better with Physiotherapy guidance and their home exercise programme!

Further Appointments

You will be seen in outpatient’s clinic approximately 1-2 weeks after your surgery. This appointment will be made and given to you before you are discharged from hospital.

Physiotherapy Appointments

It is important that physiotherapy is commenced at the appropriate time after surgery. For some patients this will mean an appointment within one or two days if it is felt that there is a risk of your shoulder stiffening up. However, for the majority of patients an appointment will be arranged within the first week after surgery.

By the time of discharge from hospital all patients should either already have a physiotherapy appointment (which may have already been sent to you before your admission into hospital) or should have an appointment made during or shortly after the hospital stay. You will be aware of this process as the physiotherapy staff will collect details from you including your preference of hospital for your physiotherapy.

The amount of physiotherapy you require will depend on your individual progress.