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What To Expect With Open Shoulder Surgery

What To Expect With Open Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder injuries can be caused by falls, sports, accidents, wear and tear due to aging, and more. When other treatments such as physical therapy and medication have failed to alleviate the pain and discomfort, surgery may be recommended. One type of surgery that may be recommended is open shoulder surgery. Open shoulder surgery is a procedure in which an incision is made in the shoulder to gain access to the underlying tissues and bones. This surgery is typically used to treat more complex shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, and shoulder arthritis. Here is what you can expect if you are scheduled for open shoulder surgery.

Before Surgery

Before the surgery, you will have a pre-operative appointment with your surgeon. During this appointment, the surgeon will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and discuss the details of the surgery with you. You may be asked to undergo additional tests, such as blood tests, X-rays, or an MRI, to ensure that you are a good candidate for the surgery.

You will also be given instructions on how to prepare for the surgery. This may include instructions on what to eat or drink before the surgery, as well as instructions on medications that you should stop taking before the surgery. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to reduce the risk of complications during the surgery.

During Surgery

On the day of the surgery, you will be given anaesthesia to ensure that you are comfortable and pain-free during the procedure. The type of anaesthesia used will depend on the specifics of the surgery and your individual needs. For open shoulder surgery, general anaesthesia is typically used.

Once you are under anaesthesia, the surgeon will make an incision in your shoulder to gain access to the underlying tissues and bones. The size and location of the incision will depend on the specifics of the surgery. The surgeon will then use specialized tools to repair or replace the damaged tissues in your shoulder. This may include repairing torn tendons, removing damaged cartilage, or replacing the entire shoulder joint.

After Surgery

After the surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored closely as you wake up from the anaesthesia. Once you are awake and stable, you will be taken to a recovery room or discharged to go home. You will likely have a bandage or dressing over the incision site, and you may have a sling or brace to help support your arm and shoulder.

You will be given specific instructions on how to care for your shoulder after the surgery. This may include instructions on how to change your dressing, how to take your medications, and how to perform gentle exercises to help strengthen your shoulder. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure proper healing and to reduce the risk of complications.

Recovery Time

Recovery time for open shoulder surgery can vary depending on the specifics of the surgery and your individual needs. In general, it can take several weeks to several months to fully recover from the surgery. During this time, you will need to avoid activities that could put stress on your shoulder, such as lifting heavy objects or participating in sports.

You may also need to undergo physical therapy to help improve your range of motion and strength in your shoulder. Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on when you can start physical therapy and what types of exercises are safe for you to perform.

Shoulder Surgery At Okanagan Health Surgical

Open shoulder surgery can be an effective treatment option for a variety of shoulder injuries. While the surgery itself can be daunting, understanding what to expect can help ease any anxiety or fear you may have about the procedure. It is important to follow your surgeon's instructions carefully both before and after the surgery to ensure proper healing and to reduce the risk of complications. With proper care and rehabilitation, you can regain strength and function in your shoulder and return to the activities you enjoy.

If you are experiencing shoulder joint pain, Okanagan Health Surgical provides early diagnosis and effective treatment to make a significant difference to your overall health and lifestyle. We will thoroughly assess your shoulder injury to determine if shoulder surgery is necessary or if your injuries can be remedied through non-invasive treatment. If shoulder surgery is needed, Okanagan Health Surgical can leverage the technologies available for minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder surgery or open shoulder surgery. If you are suffering from shoulder pain, contact Okanagan Health Surgical at 1-250-868-9799 or fill out the online contact form.


Q: How do I know if I need shoulder surgery?
A: If your shoulder pain is prolonged or doesn’t stop, if it affects your sleep, if your shoulder becomes weak, or if shoulder movement becomes more limited you may need shoulder surgery. If you have shoulder pain, you should speak with a doctor, as there may be non-surgical treatments that can benefit your shoulder pain as well. To learn more about shoulder surgery, read Signs You May Need Shoulder Surgery.

Q: What type of surgeon should I see for a shoulder injury?
A: If you are contemplating shoulder surgery, an orthopedic doctor is the best option to treat highly specialized and complicated joints such as your shoulder.

Q: What can I do to avoid exacerbating my shoulder injury?
A: Keeping your shoulder healthy and supporting healing is the best way to avoid ending up with a serious condition that will require surgical intervention. Ways you can do this are:

  • Ergonomically correct alignment if you work at a desk.
  • Proper support from any seat you spend time in: office chair, car etc.
  • Daily movement of your arms through stretching, yoga, lifting weights, jogging or other types of exercises as recommended by your physician and/or physical therapist.
  • Engaging in proper lifting techniques.
  • Strength training to better support the area. Be sure to do this with the guidance of a professional who understands your injury.

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