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Shoulder surgery suggestions? UPDATE it's DONE

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  • Shoulder surgery suggestions? UPDATE it's DONE

    My arthroscopic Bankhart surgery is set for October 9th. I'm a bit nervous, mainly for the three weeks post surgery in a sling.

    Can those of you who've been through this again reassure me I won't be a couch vegetable for very long? Anything your doctor said jsut DO NOT TRY TO DO!!???

    How did you handle some of your barn chores with only one arm? What did you find out you absolutely could NOT do even trying just to use the hurt arm's hand and wrist? Did your horses seem to know you were incapacitated and were better/worse than normal?

    I remember some of you saying you were back riding in 6 weeks. What did you find you had to really baby to accomplish that? Like when you were mounting, or direct reining? Getting off? Did it affect your balance as you favored the shoulder?

    And last, how on earth did you get dressed for the day? Much less wash hair and dry it.

    I foresee a frustrating 3 weeks. Maybe by Halloween I'll get over it LOL


    Well, things are better than I expected, esp. after reading some of other folks' stories of similar experiences.

    I made sure the anesthesiologist understood I knew that dental problems often occur during surgery due to stuff being put in your mouth...Make sure YOUR docs know you know, too. I have another internet friend who had 7 THOUSAND $$ of dental work needed after her knee surgery..the anesthesiologist did agree to cover it

    So my surgery was 1 3/4 hrs. I wasn't there for. I had been given IV anti-nausea drugs before, and after. Good thing, because I needed a couple more treatments before I felt good enough to move. Took me about 3 hours to fully recover to where my DH could see me.

    Shoulder didn't really hurt yet, and really never did much. They'd taped up the three incisions [two on front and one high on rear of shoulder] pretty tight and thick. The tape ended up being itchy and really hurt to pull off. Dr. gave me hydrocodone but I never cracked it open. I hammered with Traumeel and Arnica the day before surgery and right after, then every 4 hours. And 9400mg MSM powder/day [horse grade]. I had no real swelling or appreciable pain [and I'm not so good with pain]. The full dose MSM I'll keep up for another month or two while things heal.

    I slept in my recliner the first two nights;uncomfy for someone who sleeps mainly on her left side. Last night was in bed, but still some propped up and on my back. No idea when I'll get a good night's sleep again, just for fear of messing up the angle of my arm.

    I haven't been too tired, too sore, or very good about resting

    Dr. said the damage to the labrum was worse than expected;from my multiple [100+/-] dislocations I've worn a groove in the arm bone and roughened/ripped labrum, so that's why I couldn't get it back in last time, it got caught. He said the repair was tenuous in spots so I'll need to be more careful in my recovery...

    All in all, it's been uneventful and reasonably painless. The sling is a pain, and you just can't wear a bra or zippered pants. The sling also wants to wear a groove in your neck..ouchie...

    I'll report more if anything significant happens, when PT starts, and when I get back on my horse!
    Last edited by Melelio; Oct. 12, 2008, 07:11 PM.
    "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

    Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.

  • #2
    I'm anxious to read the replies, too, as I am scheduled for surgery on my shoulder Oct27. I kind of go into a state of shock when Dr tells me what he is going to do(the old"what I don't know can't hurt me mentality") but I did hear he is going tobe putting screws into my shoulder...after that I stopped listening and glazed over

    I have 7 horses at home and I just moved my new OTTB to a friends place. I was "hoping" to use my time off from work to ride her, and I'm remaining positive about it. but I'm probably delusional.......
    "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
    Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65


    • #3
      Find pull up elastic waist band pants.

      V-neck type shirts and zip up jackets.

      Ball caps rock.

      Bras are nearly impossible.

      Write out some check in advance--signed--and keep them in a safe (hidden) place should you need to pay for something.

      Stock up on ice paks and the velcro holders--they sell them at Walgreens. Have at least 3 ice paks so you can rotate.

      As for mucking...I got pretty good at doing it one handed...you put the handle under your arm pit, use your hip as the fulcrum, and use your other hand.

      Hip is also good for wheelbarrow OR you can take a broom stick and duct tape it across the handles (on the underside) so you can lift with one hand.

      DO SMALL LOADS or you'll wreck your other hand.

      Trying to think what else...I've had one hand surgery and then a broken wrist/hand surgery on my right--the last two years in a row. So I've gotten kind of good at this.
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


      • #4
        I've had five surgeries (including a bone graft) on my shoulder, which I broke in a "sudden involuntary dismount" while jumping. None were arthroscopic, but maybe some of my experiences will help!

        For showering, take your arm out of the sling, but keep it in the bent position, like the sling was still on. Do everything with your good hand, even though it's incredibly awkward. Resign yourself to not shaving under that arm for several weeks!

        For getting dressed, make sure you stock up on button-up tops. Ease the sleeve over your bad arm first, pull it up to your shoulder, then go on to the good arm.

        When the sling finally comes off, your muscles will have atrophied, and your arm will be very stiff. You won't be able to straighten it until you start working the muscles again. Follow the PT instructions religiously—range of motion is very hard to restore with shoulder injuries and if you ever want full use of your arm again, do exactly what they tell you (and a little bit more, to boot!).

        Finally, stock up on frozen dinners that can be microwaved with one hand, beg, borrow or steal an automatic-transmission car (if yours is a stick), and don't put your Dilaudid pills where the corgi can eat the whole bottle and have to have her stomach pumped! Don't ask me how I know this!

        Good luck—the recovery is a nightmare, but it's better than the constant pain of an injury!
        "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive


        • Original Poster

          Ugh, Chestnutmare, you're scaring me! I have a three and a half year old child too I have to work with during this.....AND I'll probably have to drive to PT myself with him..that oughta be fun

          Really, is 'nightmare' the best word to use? You're freakin me out!

          FWIW, the surgery is on my right arm, and I'm primarily left-handed, although in practicing for the last few weeks, I've found a ton of things I really need my right arm for to achieve well, but not if I don't fret the outcome

          Luckily, DH will do my stall cleaning and cart dumping, mostly, but I'm sure I'll run into needing to do it.

          How bad is the pain the first week? Does the weight of your arm when out of the sling bother it much?

          Yeah, I'm gonna quit shaving now so I won't have stubble driving me nuts as well as the shoulder

          OK, now, you guys, admit to me that you overdid what the doc told you? Right? You did, right? Did anything bad happen? (not that I would dare over do )

          Riding after stories needed too! Thanks!!!
          "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

          Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


          • #6
            Can you clip a leadrope to the munchkin's belt loops? That might be the easiest way to keep track of him with one arm!

            All my surgeries were full-on, open-to-the-middle-of-my-arm, hardware in, hardware out, hardware in again surgeries, so arthroscopic surgery won't have as long a recovery time. But, trust me, it feels much better with the sling on than off! And you'll be incredibly protective of that arm for a long time...

            I had to wear a sling for three months after each surgery, so I couldn't ride for at least six months each time. I pulled my TB out of the fancy boarding barn and found a small farm with lots of turnout so that he wasn't going nuts while I recovered. The hardest part was tightening the girth, because I couldn't lift my arm up high enough. And the butterflies in the stomach the first time I climbed back on.
            "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive


            • Original Poster

              Whew, not good for you, but sounds a bit more hopeful for me. Doc said 3 weeks with sling, and I'm betting by week 2 I'll want to take it off, but will comply...

              Yeah, leadrope to the belt loop; good idea! I was trying to figure out something for him to hold onto on me on that sid, was thinking of running a stirrup leather through MY belt loop for him to grab...a grab strap of the mama!
              "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

              Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


              • #8
                I didn't push it.

                In fact, for my first surgery, the surgeon flat out said, "Unless you PROMISE not to do X, Y, or Z (which involved water buckets) then I'm not doing the surgery because I won't have you ruining my reputation because you didn't follow orders."

                My second surgery...Barbaro'd my arm into little pieces and again...I really did follow instructions because I didn't want to cause more damage or set myself back.

                I wouldn't push it. tendons and ligaments heal much more slowly and if you don't give them enough time, you are really at risk for reinjury.

                CAn you try to get some help lined up? That's what I did.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  I had my shoulder scoped back in '05. I was in a sling for a month. My arm was in that sling for the entire month. The first week is pure and utter torture. It sucked beyond belief and I remember wondering why I signed up for this in the first place. I had an "easy" fix as I just had the ligaments and tendons shortened since my joint capsule was 2x the size it should have been. My shoulder would sublux frequently and hurt a lot.

                  Hair washing - during the first week my mom washed it in the kitchen sink. Otherwise, go to a walk-in hair salon and for $5 they'll do it for you.

                  Clothes - I ended up wearing a tank top built in bra thing. The first week though, don't plan on much of anything. Stock up on sweats and track pants that don't have zippers and buttons. I didn't have issues with shirts, you just have to be creative. I'd slide the shirt up on my bad arm, then a lot of times stick my head in then do the good arm. Getting out of them on the other hand..... (I had more than one time of calling my mom for help who then stood and laughed at me). If you need a jacket get one that either has easy buttons or velcros and just walk around with it over your sling. Or, have friends that feel bad and will dress you between classes and carry your bag like mine did.

                  No, I didn't overdo anything and I did everything in my power to keep that surgery successful. I did it by the book. I now have a shoulder I can ride with and don't hurt at the end of a day. I don't wake up in the morning in pain because I slept funny and more shoulder is out of socket. Be patient and you will figure it out. Just think of it as short-term frustration for long-term use and it will all pay off in the end.
                  University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2012
                  Member of the Asthmatic Riders & "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" cliques


                  • #10
                    Not sure what method Dr. used, but husband got both his rotator cuffs done. He wore slings, but she had him finger walking up the walls before he left recovery. We had ice shoulder jackets, which I put on every few hours. With shoulder numb, it didn't hurt so bad. That was good for about 5 days. I cleaned drainage from the holes, put new pads and tape on. He was out of sling in about 7 days, back to work in 14 but light duty.

                    Same Dr did both husbands shoulders, and son too. Both men recovered quickly, doing movement exercises right along. They were in a lot of pain for the first 5 days, took the meds to stay ahead of it. Ice on shoulder helped a lot. Massive drainage took about a week to stop oozing. They use a lot of water inside, which then has to work back out of incisions.

                    My guys are the fastest recovering of anyone I know. It is amazing compared to other's stories of long term recovery and therapy after. One guy was 5 months! This leads me to believe that methods, techniques of doing things can be better or not so good. Both guys have full range of motion, strength is back, fully recovered in about a month. They got fixed BEFORE breaking the big tendon going across the shoulder. They really have to open you up if that gets broken, with only about 80% mobility return expected after surgery. Do NOT wait that long.

                    I would see if you can get a Home Health care nurse to come by if you can't get anyone to come stay for a week or two. Maybe insurance would cover it. Someone should be around, or at least checking up on you during those first days of recovery. There are just things you can't do, like bandages, cleaning of wounds, that need doing. See if you can get a horse sitter to come in, let the shoulder heal or you will need it done again. Sign the kid up for daycare so you can get some sleep and he is safe. You don't know how bad you will be feeling!

                    Husband and son are not wimpy, but said even WITH good meds, the pain was excruciating and they were always looking forward to the next pill during that first 5-6 days.

                    Just because lots of folks have shoulder surgery, doesn't mean it is not serious stuff. I would be really scared to go home alone after this surgery, no one around to help with wound care, tracking my meds, getting ice for myself, trying to do normal things. And that would be without horse chores or child care! Do look at some alternatives to help yourself be safe and well cared for.


                    • #11
                      Ditto what everyone else has said already. I broke my shoulder (didn't need surgery, but it was touch and go for awhile), and Mr. Pharmgirl has had two shoulder surgeries (one while I was rehabbing mine- we were a mess!)

                      With the surgery, make sure they either do a nerve block on your arm (although Mr. pharmgirl's didn't last), or get one of those Q-Ball pain balls that dispenses pain meds directly into the shoulder. From what I know and heard, shoulder surgeries are about the most painful you can go through (including childbirth!). Also, make sure they give you a good padded sling that can wrap around your wait. That extra stability really helps when trying to move.

                      Sleeping just sucks. We both found that resting a pillow or two underneath our bad arm was more comfortable, and helped us get up out of bed .

                      I also had some back issues with my injury (fell while riding), and having my husband there to help bathe, dress, feed, etc was immensely helpful. I found that everything I did just took that much more out of me than if i had two good arms. Headbands, shirts with buttons/zippers (including sports bras when I got to that point), and elastic waistband pants became my best friends. That was also the time I decided to get lasix for my next birthday b/c I wore contacts and that was nearly impossible for over a month!

                      Definitely range of motion and rehab will be tough. DH has also had an ACL replaced, and he said the shoulder surgeries and rehabs were much worse. When rehabbing, don't forget all the muscles in your back and torso. Took me a couple of bulging discs to realize those were pretty atrophied from the injury as well.

                      I've broken bones before and had other injuries, so when I heard a broken shoulder I thought "great, no riding for 8 weeks". It was more like 12-16, and even then it was on the lunge b/c I still didn't have much strength in that arm (had issues even mounting with a mounting block).

                      Feel free to PM with any questions.


                      • #12
                        Find a few bras that hook in the front.

                        Get those sleeping bag toggles for your shoe laces so you don't have to tie- or just use slip ons.

                        Button down shirts rock - the snap or zip ones would have been even easier.

                        I had 8.5 hours of open surgery - so not too sure on scope recovery time - but they put screws in my shoulder too. It was really bad for 3 days pretty bad for the rest of the week then a pain for 3 or 4 months for me. I think it was at least 2 months before I could put my hair in a pony tail.

                        When you're sick of not working out - and decide to start spinning class don't reach for your waterbottle with one hand while your other is in a sling -getting bucked off a spinning bike is no more fun than getting bucked off a horse and a lot more embarassing


                        • #13
                          If you want to hear really scarey stories, I will tell you about my husband's five shoulder surgeries, the last one of which resulted in doctor's orders to NEVER EVER again under any circumstances lead a horse & he is not supposed to drive the tractor, either. He no longer has control of his right thumb (anesthesia damaged a nerve in his neck) & not a lot of control of his right arm - this is almost a year after surgery. It has been a nightmare as his help is really needed around our 20 acre farm. He does help - does a lot that is outside dr.'s orders but does not work with horses or lead them or really get close to them.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Evalee Hunter View Post
                            If you want to hear really scarey stories, I will tell you ...
                            Nope, I don't.....
                            "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

                            Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


                            • #15
                              My Dad has blown out both shoulders 2x each. Range of motion became the biggest issue, but his last surgery left him more mobile than he had been before, which he credits to the human-version of a Game Ready system that they sent him home with. It was so effective for pain that he felt he was able to comply with the PT's recomendations better than he would have been able to otherwise.

                              May be overkill for arthro, but worth looking into.


                              • #16
                                I'm actually starting to feel sick to my stomach.. no joke.

                                Pharmgirl, you're scaring me.....
                                "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
                                Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65


                                • #17
                                  "From what I know and heard, shoulder surgeries are about the most painful you can go through (including childbirth!). Also, make sure they give you a good padded sling that can wrap around your wait. That extra stability really helps when trying to move"

                                  If it's as bad as it was when I first seperated my shoulder, I don't think I can tolerate that again...it was worse than childbirth...and I have had two kids, both natural, no pain or epidural relief. The pain was so bad, I was sick to my stomach and close to passing out.
                                  "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
                                  Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65


                                  • #18
                                    Don't mean to scare anyone. If it makes you feel any better, it's been 7 years and have fabulous range of motion (some things actually came back even better), and often don't even think about it. I do have to say, however, that I have had several broken bones and pulled/torn ligaments and the shoulder was by far my worst (still haven't gone through childbirth yet, though).

                                    My recovery was complicated by the trauma of a completely broken bone (the humerus just below the head), with over 70% displacement (why I almost needed surgery). I couldn't take my arm out of the sling at all for over 4 weeks (because they needed to make sure the bone was lining back up and stay there). Things can often be a bit different when it's a more controlled setting like surgery.

                                    DH's first surgery involved cutting muscle, and so he couldn't start rehab for 6 weeks b/c the ortho said it would take that long for the muscle to heal. His second surgery was a bankart repair, and I believe he could at least start rehab quite a bit sooner with that one.


                                    • #19
                                      Ooh, sorry up-at-5. I don't want to do that!
                                      At least now it seems they give some good drugs to help with the pain. I'd say ask about the Q Ball http://www.vqorthocare.com/Products/...Pumps/On-Q.php
                                      DH was happy with that one
                                      He is definitely happier since he had his shoulder fixed (just wish they got the labrum fixed during the first surgery!).

                                      I didn't have my own horse at the time, so there was no pressure to get to the barn (I also had just started back in grad school full time, so no time anyway). I say if you are brave enough and the bouncing doesn't hurt, you could maybe do some lunging?


                                      • #20
                                        Well... if you have having the dominate hand operated on then the hardest thing you will be doing is wiping your butt..... literally... you will find this to be a challenge

                                        You will be OK. You will survive.... your ponies will survive. Riding shouldn't be too big of a deal.. jsut have someone on the ground a couple of times to make sure you are staying even and not compensating and making yoruself uneven. Just don't fall off

                                        I've done the shoulder and the childbirth.... my shoulder was open though and yes, I would say it was worse than childbirth... but not by much. The morphine pump for the day after was a fun make-catersun-puke machine :-)

                                        Lots and lots of pillows.. you probably will never be able to sleep the same again.... at least not on a bad day. Now that I am become a convert to ambien... I would ask my doc for a script of that to get with my pain meds if I had to do it over again.

                                        I found that palying with a small ball or somethign for the hand in the sling kept it from falling asleep as my hand was just hanging there.

                                        I got really good at washing my hair with one hand (I had long hair at the time too) But I've never been one much for blow drying.
                                        And i second the bras that snap in front. LIFESAVER.

                                        Really,,, you will survive.. I'd start practicing now with the toodler to "Be Gentle With Mommy" That is a motto in our house with out 2yo right now. (I'm 30weeks preggo) Be VERY Gentle with Mommy.
                                        If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.