Pain Management after Shoulder Replacement

* Snap! Crackle! Pop! * There are a handful of reasons to undergo a total shoulder replacement (TSA). No matter what, everyone wants a quick and comfortable recovery. Luckily, TSA is one of the most common joint replacement surgeries in the United States. Even though it is a common procedure you may have many questions about the discomfort and recovery after surgery. The answer to those questions may not be the same for everyone. Doctors and healthcare providers understand that managing pain is critical to improving quality of life after surgery. Talking with your doctor is important to help manage your recovery expectations. Before surgery, you and your doctor should discuss an individual care plan to address pain management options that are safe and effective for you.

Pain medication is usually the first option patients will be prescribed to relieve any discomfort they may experience. Medications like Tylenol, NSAIDs (Ibuprofen), narcotics, and other pain relievers are commonly used and prescribed before and after surgery. It is important to be truthful when talking to your doctor to determine which pharmacologic strategy is best for you and your conditions.

Physical Therapy (PT) is commonly prescribed after a joint replacement surgery. PT is used to help strengthen your muscles and tissues around the newly repaired joint to restore and improve its function. PT can cause discomfort, especially right after surgery. Common strategies for reducing discomfort from PT is medicating properly before and after each therapy session. Applying ice (do not apply directly to your skin) to the area can also help reduce discomfort.

Pain after a shoulder replacement is expected so don’t let that discourage you. The good news is, technology is advancing, and ongoing research continues to explore new ideas and treatment options. Doctors and other healthcare providers can help you manage discomfort safely and effectively for a quicker recovery and still provide positive results.

Managing your pain is a combination of taking your prescribed pain medication appropriately, completing physical therapy sessions and a bit of ice never hurts. You should see an improvement in function with less pain over time. Knowing your limitations after surgery and communicating with your doctor will be helpful in your journey through recovery. High five!…too soon?

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Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

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