Shoulder Surgery Recovery

I have had several shoulder dislocations recently (caused by a tendency to dislocate if I move it into the wrong position, not trauma).  

The doctor has recommended shoulder and I need the following procedures; anterior and posterior labrum repair, SLAP repair and extensive debridement.  It will be arthroscopic surgery.

in terms of recovery the doctor has said I will be able to type, use a mouse and return to work (desk job) within a couple of days, do CV exercise (including running) after 6 weeks, and return to my gym classes, yoga, netball and skiing after 3 months. 

Has anyone had this surgery? How was your recovery?

It's not a straightforward decision for me, as I currently have no pain (immediately after the shoulder has reduced, the pain went), and no restrictions on any of my sports or exercise.  Yet I'm going to voluntarily cause myself substantial pain!

Would be good to hear others' experiences!





  • Hi Beanie,

    Have you had lots of physio for this? I'm guessing you probably have, but if not it's worth trying to rehab it before going under the knife.

  • Six PhysioSix Physio ✭✭✭
    Agree with Tom - they, and whoever is going to poke a 'scope into your shoulder needs to know their nuts and to speak!
  • No I've had no physio at all.  I was given the option of physio first, but told the chance of success (i.e. no future dislocations) is <50% (some articles I've read say <10%).  I'm considered at high risk of future dislocations due to my age and the sports i play.  I took the view that it's probably pointless doing 6 mths of physio, only to then need the op anyway.  But I don't want to miss the netball and ski seasons (starting in October), so early summer is really the best time to get it done.  And I don't want to have another year reminding myself not to stretch when i wake up in the morning - that's how it happened the last time!



  • And yes the consultant I'm seeing is a shoulder specialist whose meant to be one of the best in HK.  That's of utmost importance to me.

  • Sounds like you've done your research!

    If the labrum is damaged the shoulder will lose some structural stability so as you say physio may not help.

    People I've seen post op have got good outcomes but it can be a slow recovery.
  • Six PhysioSix Physio ✭✭✭
    Your percentages are pretty correct. However the better you go into an op (stability, control, endurance) the better you'll come out.

    You'll have developed some pretty abhorrent movement patterns already which'll need correcting sooner or later, why wait 'till then?

    Good Luck
  • Not the same problem as yours, but I had arthroscopic shoulder surgery a few years ago, and was given almost exactly the same recovery timescales for various activities as you mention above.

    I was sent home with two weeks worth of codeine painkillers but only needed them for the first day, and just took ibuprofen or paracetamol after that. I was sore for a few days but nothing awful, and was back at work within a week. I was jogging again after a month, but not swinging my arms about too much. Overall it wasn't a big deal really. It took almost a year for the pain to settle down completely, but that's probably not going to be the same for you as I WAS in a lot of pain beforehand and was told before having the surgery that full recovery and reduction of pain could take up to 18 months...

  • The BusThe Bus ✭✭✭

    Definitely try the non-surgical option first. Even a 10% chance (and up to 50%!) is better than deliberately going through the whole surgery process and all its inherent risks and recovery issues. As six physio says, even if you then still need surgery, you'll be in a much better position recovery wise anyway. Not quite the same, but I had shoulder surgery following a major collarbone break (a friendly tree shattered it ito six pieces!) and the recovery process was long, painful and hard work!


  • Six Physio

    Yes I know physio first would be the ideal, but for me that would either mean writing off my ski and netball seasons this year, or waiting a whole year for the surgery.  If I wait another year I know it's likely I'll dislocate it again at some point, and I really can't face the pain of a dislocation again - it's so intense, i was unable to move at all without screaming and when it came out and stayed out which is what happened recently, it required an ambulance, and A&E both times (it did reduce on its own, but only after I'd been given gas for the pain, which I think also relaxed my muscles).

    In addition there's the insurance aspect to consider. Now this has been diagnosed I can't move insurers (which means I can't move jobs as it's a work benefit), or I won't be covered as it would be pre-existing.  If I had it done on the public system here in Hong Kong I would get no choice of doctor, just whoever's on duty at the time I'm given.  I really want my choice of surgeon who specialises in shoulders.

    Actually I don't think my movement patterns are too bad.  Because I have no pain it doesn't impinge on any of my training, and I do a lot of functional training like TRX and boot camp classes, and I think my form is quite good.  The only thing I don't do is abduct and externally rotate the shoulder at the same time, but I don't think that action occurs in life much anyway (apart from stretching when you wake up!).  What I do have is aprehension that for example I might trip and put my arm in the wrong position in a fall, so it's impinging on my life at the moment. 

    Actually I think this thread has been useful, as justifying to you guys as to why I should get the surgery, has helped clarify it in my own mind!

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