Mayo Clinic Connect
I have recently had a total shoulder replacement and continue to have much pain eight weeks later. I wonder if anyone else is experiencing this with their standard shoulder replacement.
Liked by Leonard
Hello @rascal1. I'd like to invite a few members who have undergone a shoulder replacement and could share their experience with recovery. @steeldove, @edithmiller, and @mimi99 have discussed having shoulder replacements and may be able to share what their recovery was like.
@rascal1, while we wait for others to share their recovery experience, have you had time to discuss your ongoing pain with your surgeon? How extensive is the PT for a replacement? I had my rotator tear repaired in 2018 and I am still working my way back to this day. Is the recovery time projected to be long?
Liked by John, Volunteer Mentor, Debbra Williams, Alumna Mentor, Leonard
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Yes, I discussed my pain with my doctor last week and he said it was rather unusual after a total shoulder replacement but everyone has a different tolerance for pain. He upped my tramadol and put me on Advil. Neither of which seem to help. When I go for physical therapy it hurts on my way there let alone while she is doing the exercises with me and the stretches.
I had the surgery on May 21 with some physical therapy in the hospital for three days. Then I went to an inpatient physical therapy facility where I had occupational therapy and physical therapy six days a week.
After three weeks I came home and had physical therapy here for three weeks. Now I’m going to outpatient physical therapy and I’m just not finding any improvement in pain.
I have quite a bit of improvement in motion and movement but the pain keeps me from activities I enjoy.
I’m wondering if anyone else has had this much pain for this long as I find it very discouraging.
Liked by JK, Alumna Mentor, Leonard
@rascal1 I have not had a shoulder replacement but I understand being discouraged. After my second knee replacement, I was in a great deal of pain for about 6 – 8 weeks and then it suddenly lifted, almost overnight! My doctor was seeing me more regularly than typical because of the pain. When I went on an appointment after the pain lifted he was so glad and relieved. Before that it hurt so much at times that I actually cried.
Try to not be discouraged — easier said than done of course. It will get better, I am sure. Until then just take it one day at a time and one of those days, hopefully, the pain will feel much better.
Thanks very much for your reply and encouragement JK!
Shoulder replacement is known to be the most difficult surgery and recovery of knee, hip etc.
I’ve had hip replacement and the pain eased much sooner.
None of the pain meds prescribed are working like Tramadol and Aleve.
Is there a non-opioid you have used that helped?
So glad you are better!
@rascal1 I actually never knew that they replaced shoulders until a hospital stay, pre-transplant, and my roommate had one! I remember that she was in a lot of pain. I think hip replacement has the easiest recovery.
Most doctors are extremely reluctant to prescribe opioids these days, as mine was. He had me weaning off in about a week. I have read studies that claim that ibuprofen is as effective as opioids. I can’t take that or aspirin, or naproxen due to being post-transplant so I had to manage with acetaminophen.
Just try to take one day at a time, not much else you can do anyway. Although I am not familiar with shoulder replacement I am sure you will see improvement soon.
Noticed that you specifically addressed non-opioids pain medications. I’ve had 2 separate shoulder repair surgeries, 1 knee arthroscopic surgery, and one knee replacement on the same knee. Plus several dental implants with complications like fractured old tooth that had to be picked out piece-meal, another time infection of the jawbone. So I’ve been taking prescription opioids as needed in 5 instances (2 of the dental implants I did not bother to fill prescription). Mostly the opioids were extremely helpful in controlling pain, as long as taken on schedule and not “as needed” when pain came on. They are also super annoying bc of the constipation side effect. And I think the fear of automatic, unavoidable, prevalent, addiction is sooo overblown. Not sure if you have access to opioids, or if you cannot take them, and I am not familiar with Tramadol. However, Ibuprofen, Advil, or Tylenol do/did absolutely nothing for my post-surgical pain, or even everyday generic pain (Aleve for that).
Tramadol is Ultram which has really not helped this post surgical shoulder pain so i’m going to try going without for a couple days and see if it really does not help the pain for sure. I’m at a loss now what to take. I’ve been taking Advil as well but it sounds like Aleve works for you and I’ll try for this. It is very frustrating and very depressed to be in constant pain. I don’t want to go back to an opioid like Oxy eight weeks after surgery. My doctor doesn’t recommend it either. I use an ice pack a lot which helps somewhat. Physical therapy is very painful and when I come home I’m in extreme pain as well. I’ve had a lot of surgeries including a hip replacement and a couple of shoulder arthroscopic surgeries but none hurt like this.
Thank you so much for your response. I’m not sure there’s anything that you can do to help but appreciate your input!
Just trying to find someone who maybe has had a shoulder replacement and has also experienced this amount of pain for so long as it’s so debilitating. Have a good day
Are you still in pain from your rotator cuff repair in 2018 or is it range of motion you’re working on?
@rascal1, good question. I am now 13 months out after my rotator repair. Certain movements can still trigger some pain, but that has more to do with scar tissue I believe. I am mostly working on building my muscles and range-of-motion back. Essentially, I have pain when I am pushing my shoulder to gain strength and flexibility. I do worry that I will never be completely pain free with all of my movements, but I continue to push myself anyways in hopes that the last remaining painful movements are due to muscle weakness and stretching out the joint back to where it was (or as close as possible). I am not sure how shoulder replacements and rotators compare, but I was told it would be long and arduous. The initial pain from the repair was pretty bad and lasted a few months, largely due to the fact that I was not supposed to move the joint and that is just hard to do when something as little as a cough would shake it enough to hurt badly. @rascal1, how are you sleeping? That was also something I found next to impossible.
Thanks Justin. I take a small dose of trazodone to sleep which helps quite a bit. I wake during the night with pain but I’m able to fall back asleep. I’m not sure of the severity of the surgery or recovery after between rotator cuff repair and total shoulder replacement but both are a very arduous journey!
I just don’t want to take a lot of drugs but I don’t want a lot of pain and I guess there’s not a solution there. Somebody told me to try Aleve which you also mentioned but I don’t know if it’s strong enough. I’ll give it a try.
Did you have much PT?
Thanks again and best to you
Justin: I hope you get full recovery and an end to the pain soon. I was super lucky with my 2 shoulder arthroscopic surgeries, compared to you. Right shoulder was rotator tear, bone spur, and a biceps tendon that was frayed beyond repair and had to be severed. Exactly 4 months to the day after that surgery I was back to playing tennis (with wimpy, but full overhead serve). Left shoulder was “only” rotator cuff tear and bone spur. Equally fast recovery. Of course it took almost 9 months to get to the full motion and total absence of pain. I agree that sleeping was a major problem. Contrary to some advice I never used a recliner. Just built a support system in bed with lots and lots of little pillows to brace the shoulder. Worst part was when I had to turn over to reach the pain pills on the nightstand every 4 hours.
I had a total shoulder replacement of my right shoulder on July 30th of this year. I have had a number of surgies in the past without trepidation but I did feel some anxiety about this shoulder. They only kept me one night in hospital and from there I went to stay with a friend. I am still staying with a friend rather than at home so that I will not be tempted to overuse my body. I had about a week of intense pain that was modified greatly by the pain medication. I took them as prescriibed until I realized that I could go longer and longer without the medication. The nurse told me to take them as prescribed but I did not need them so I did not take them. I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic and did not feel any desire to use them other than for the pain. I slept sitting up in a chair with pillows for support…especially for my arm and shoulder which were in a sling. I have been sleeping in my bed for awhile now and that works as long as I use the positions suggested by the doctor. I went on youtube and watched videos of proper sleeping positions for post shoulder surgery over and over. I have a healthy respect for the need to keep the upper part of my shoulder stabilized, etc. Today I can wear my sling or not around the house with no problems. As with my knee surgery I have followed doctor's ordes and made provisions to stay somewhere to begin recovery rather than at home. Physial therapy starts on September 9 and I do not look forward to it at all. I know the purpose and I will comply but OUCH! I attribute my reasonable amout of success to obeying doctor's orders and using the internet to watch relevant videos and read other people's experiences.
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I had shoulder replacement surgery on March 12, 2020. After a few days of initial pain, I had tolerable pain for a few weeks that NSAIDS handled. I was able to get through rehab quickly and am now working on getting back to as close to normal ROM and strength. My remaining concern is with sleeping on the affected side. It still isn't a comfortable position and if I do roll over to that side, I'll wake up after a few hours with unpleasant achiness in the joint both at rest and through my range of motion. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this, did it eventually go away and did you do anything to help? (FYI – I'm 71).
Hi @mdgarnett, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to this existing discussion about shoulder replacement, pain and sleep. I did this so that you can connect with @ellerbracke @anncgrl @rascal1 and others.
In this article, John Sperling, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester states:
"Many patients six weeks after surgery are able to drive again, sleep on the side that bothered them before and resume a wide variety of activities, such as golf and gardening, he says." from Mayo Clinic News Network – Mayo Study Finds Shoulder Replacement Eases Pain, Improves Motion in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/shoulder-replacement-eases-pain-improves-motion-in-rheumatoid-arthritis-patients-mayo-study-finds/
This is obviously not been your experience. Are you able to fall back asleep or does the pain keep you awake? Have you talked to a physiotherapist about this persistent pain interrupting your sleep?
Liked by John, Volunteer Mentor
Thanks for replying and moving my message to the right place.
I guess I over-stated things. I haven't had any serious pain since 5 or 6 weeks after surgery except for a couple of occasions where I know I over did it. I purposely avoided sleeping on my right side until recently and that's what my message refers to. I wouldn't call what I feel now as pain – more an uncomfortable aching that usually goes away after I'm up for a few hours but sometimes lingers for the day. I usually fall asleep again if I change position. Taking an NSAID before bed doesn't seem to make any difference.
At the risk of making things more complicated: I also can get the same issue if I rest my elbow and leaning on it like on my desk or a chair arm. This tends to push the humerus up into the shoulder and I think stresses the joint – and I'm going to guess that is what happens at night. I don't think this is going to be an ongoing problem but you never know.
My concern is I had a CMJ fusion and trapeziectomy several years ago and I still have problems with my hand and wrist and am just having to learn to live with it. The ache is random and doesn't affect what I can do but it is sometimes demoralizing. The surgery trigged CRPS that fortunately responded to pain treatment but it also triggered Dupuytren's Contracture that is gradually growing worse.
I haven't talked to the surgeon yet – I have a follow up on 7/20. I just wanted to see if my experience is typical.
Pardon me for rambling on. I had rotator cuff surgery on my other shoulder 10 years ago. I was able to find a wealth of info about what to expect and many people's experiences to prepare myself. I wasn't able to do this with the replacement surgery, I think because there just haven't been as many are there are rotator cuff repairs.
Thanks for listening.
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