Shoulder Surgery – Discharge Instructions

Shoulder Surgery – Post-Operative Instructions

Follow up Appointment

  1. Please call the office at 512-476-2830 to schedule an appointment with me within one week.
  2. If you have any questions, please write them down so that you will be able to ask them at your follow-up visit.


  1. Begin with liquids and light foods (jello, soup, etc.).
  2. Progress to your normal diet as tolerated.

For 24 hours after surgery

  1. Be in the care of a responsible adult.
  2. Do not drive or operate machinery.
  3. Do not make important decisions or sign legal documents.
  4. Do not drink alcoholic beverages.


  • Take it easy, you just had surgery.
  • Return to work depends on your type of employment.
  • You may shower only if:
    • The dressing / splint can be wrapped in a plastic bag and kept DRY at all times. “Press and Seal” found at your local grocery store, works very well to cover the surgical site / dressing.
    • Once your dressing has been removed, you can let the water to run on the wound only briefly and then pat dry. Afterwards, keep the wound clean and dry. DO NOT soak in a bathtub, hot tub, pool, lake etc. until the wound is completely healed (sutures, staples or steri-strips have been removed) and you do not have a scab.

Exercises – check with your surgeon to determine which exercises are appropriate for you

  • You may remove the sling and use your arm when you are comfortable, usually 2 to 3 days after surgery. This is meant to give our elbow a break and not to move your shoulder all over the place.
  • Do not lift anything more than 5 pounds with your surgical arm.
  • You may remove your arm from the sling a couple of times per day to exercise your hand and elbow, but not your shoulder. This will help decrease stiffness and swelling in your forearm.
  • You DO / DO NOT have to sleep in the sling. (check with your surgeon)
  • Please remain in your sling at ALL times. I do not want you to start any formal physical therapy at this time. You may remove your sling to get dressed.
  • Other:_____________________________

Wound Care

DO NOT soak any wound in a bathtub, hot tub, pool, lake etc. until the wound is completely healed and you do not have a scab.

  • You may remove the dressings in ____ days. (check with your surgeon)
  • Keep the white little band-aids (steri-strips) on your skin when you take your dressing off. Do not take these off. I want you to leave these on for about 10 days.
  • DO NOT remove your dressing / splint until approved by the physician.


  1. Strong oral narcotic pain medication has been prescribed for you. Use only as directed. Do not mix with other pain medications, sedatives or narcotics. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery or drink alcoholic beverages while taking these medications. Do not exceed 8 pills in 24 hours; excess use may cause liver problems and/or addiction.
  2. You MAY / MAY NOT take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, ibuprofen, Alleve, Celebrex, Vioxx, etc.) as directed, in addition to the narcotic pain medication. Do not take these medications if you have stomach ulcers, kidney problems or congestive heart failure. (check with your surgeon)
  3. If you develop any signs of an allergy to the medication(s) (rash, itching, welts), STOP the medication immediately and contact the physician. Allergies may develop even if the drug was taken before without problems.
  4. Many pain medications, antibiotics and aspirin products can cause stomach upset or nausea. This is not a true allergy and can often be avoided by taking the medication with a light snack or liquid. If the nausea and/or vomiting persist, contact the physician and another medication can possibly be substituted.

When to call your physician – Call immediately if any of the following are present:

  • Increased swelling or numbness
  • Unrelenting pain
  • Fever (temperature over 101oF) or chills
  • Redness around incisions
  • Continuous bleeding or drainage from incisions. A moderate amount of drainage is expected immediately after surgery.
  • Color change in arm or hand
  • Any other worrisome condition

Best of luck for a speedy recovery!


This resource has been provided by Edward Seade, M.D. as general information only. Additional information can be found by visiting our clinic. Please call for an appointment at 512-583-0219

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