Shoulder Surgery – Pain Block Instructions

Pain Block Instructions – Post-Operative

Shoulder / Arm Block

  • The local anesthetic that was given to you will last anywhere from 4-16 hours depending on the amount and type of medication used.
  • The most important thing to do is to start taking the pain medication that was given to you immediately. DO NOT WAIT FOR THE PAIN TO START.
    • Start one pain pill right away and keep on taking one every four hours. Yes, even if you don’t hurt.
    • If the numbness is starting to wear off or your shoulder / arm is starting to tingle, begin taking two pills every four hours.
    • Once the local anesthetic has worn off you may take your pain pills as is printed on your prescription if you need to. You may take less or none at all if you so desire.
    • Some people have a low tolerance for pain medicine. If you are very drowsy and the narcotic is making you very sleepy, back off a little and do not “double up” on the medication.
  • Pain medications are usually prescribed and you should take as prescribed by your physician.

Polar Ice

  • The polar ice machine helps reduce swelling and also helps tremendously with the pain.
  • Use it as much as you can for the first 48 hours.
  • If it is not getting cold enough here are some trouble shooting tips.
    • Make sure that the cooler is full of ice and water. The pump has to be underwater for it to work.
      If the pump is on and the pad is not getting cold there may be a kink in the pad. Try straightening the pad to allow the water to flow through.
    • If the pad is cold but it is not reaching deep enough into your shoulder/arm try removing the green or blue towel that was placed underneath it in the OR. I place this to protect the skin from severe cold while your shoulder is numb from the block.
    • If your machine just does not work there should be a phone number on the cooler. Call the number and let them know what the problem is with the device.


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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