Shoulder Instability (Labral) Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I come to HSS for my surgery?

Hospital for Special Surgery has been rated the top orthopedic hospital by US News and World Report for the last two years. Our nursing staff has also been recognized with the prestigious Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence. At HSS, you will find the best surgeons, the best hospital, and the best nurses -- a winning combination for successful outcomes.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Typically shoulder arthroscopy is an ambulatory surgery - you go home the same day of the surgery.

What type of anesthetic will I need?

Typically shoulder arthroscopy is performed with a regional block at Hospital for Special Surgery. You will be sedated and can sleep through the operation. General anesthesia is usually not necessary.

When can I shower?

I do not like your stitches to get wet. Therefore, you may shower when you get home, but the incision will need to be covered. I recommend using saran wrap around the area to prevent it from getting wet. The stitches will be removed at the first follow up appointment 7-14 days after the surgery; thereafter, it is safe to get the incision wet.

How long should I use the pain medication?

This is different for each patient; some are able to use Tylenol or Advil after you leave the hospital, and others require pain medication as needed for 2-3 weeks. A general rule is that you should try to decrease your use of these medications as time passes.

When can I drive?

You should not drive as long as you are taking narcotic pain medication. You should also not drive while you are in a sling. Your time in a sling depends on the type of surgery that was performed and may be anywhere from a couple days to 6 weeks.

When can I return to work?

It depends on your occupation. It is never a mistake to take more time off in the beginning of your recovery, as it will give you time to focus on your surgery. The amount of time off work varies with the type of shoulder procedure. Typically, I recommend taking at least 3-4 days off of work for shoulder arthroscopy if you are able to work with a sling. If you cannot work with a sling on, your return to work is dependent on the type of procedure that was performed and the type of work that you do.

I feel "clicking" inside the shoulder, is this normal?

The clicking is a result of the soft tissue moving across the joint. This sensation usually diminishes as your muscles get stronger.

I am experiencing a lot of swelling and bruising, is this normal?

Fluid can accumulate in the arm due to the effect of gravity. Patients often notice swelling and bruising that goes down to the fingers. The swelling and bruising diminishes over time.

When can I go to the dentist?

Please wait until 6 weeks after surgery, as the joint is still healing and there is increased blood flow to this area.

Can I travel?

In general, I like to see you before you fly. If you are traveling by car, you should be sure to take frequent breaks so that you don't feel too stiff when getting up. On an airplane, I like you to take a couple of walks during the flight. Having an aisle and bulkhead seat will help you get more space.

Is there a better time of year to have the surgery?

This is a personal decision; some patients like to have the surgery in good weather so that they may walk outdoors as part of their recovery; others prefer to do the surgery in the winter so that they may recover in time to participate in springtime activities.