Getting a comfortable and refreshing night’s sleep can be a concern for anyone about to or have recently undergone surgery.
Sleep is detrimental to recovery, so you must continue to get a good night’s sleep after any surgery, injury, or procedure.
Shoulder surgery is a common operation that patients may have to undergo for several reasons, including shoulder replacement, rotary cuff damage, arthritis, or severe dislocation, amongst other causes.
Whether you’ve got an upcoming operation on your shoulder or are recovering, this guide will be your go-to for handy tips on sleeping post-op.
Types of Shoulder Surgery and What to Expect?
The type of shoulder surgery you’ll go through will depend on the reason for it in the first place. Let’s look at a few types of shoulder surgery so that you know what to expect as time approaches.
1. Arthroscopic Surgery
This kind of surgery is usually performed when repairing the rotator cuff. It’s not a very invasive treatment. It is done by inserting a small tube via a small incision with a camera attached.
It shows the surgeon exactly what’s happening inside the shoulder. Sometimes, more small incisions will be made to insert more medical materials.
2. Rotator Cuff Surgery
It’s the second most common type of shoulder surgery performed. Reports from 2023 show that around 570,000 of these types of operations are performed yearly, which is still expected to rise.
Usually, this shoulder surgery needs a torn or damaged rotator cuff resulting from many forms of injury or muscle strain.
The surgery involves reattaching the tendons in the shoulder to the bone using a metal suture anchor or dissolvable material.
3. Acromioclavicular Surgery
Acromioclavicular surgery is an intense procedure to cure more significant types of shoulder injuries, such as a sprain, dislocation, or damage caused by substantial accidents. It can sometimes be extremely severe, resulting in the bone protruding from the shoulder.
The surgery involves the reconstruction and sometimes relocation of ligaments. This procedure uses open or keyhole surgery, depending on the severity level.
4. Shoulder Replacement
In the case of severe, debilitating shoulder pain caused by chronic arthritis or serious injury, then it may be that an entire shoulder replacement is required.
This kind of shoulder surgery involves the entire shoulder, ball, and socket with an artificial one.
It’s a lengthy, invasive operation requiring rest and recovery to ensure proper rehabilitation.
How to Sleep After Shoulder Surgery? – 6 Helpful Tips
Now that you have a clearer scope of the main types of shoulder surgery and what they involve, let’s look at how to enhance your sleep quality after shoulder surgery.
1. Sleeping Position
After undergoing any surgery, the likelihood is that you’ll have to adopt a new sleep position that accommodates your wound and relieves any pressure from the affected area.
After shoulder surgery, the best position to sleep is slightly reclined. By sleeping like this, you lower the chance of turning onto your side at night, putting pressure on the shoulder. It also means you’re more likely to remain in one position while you sleep.
Some ways to ensure you remain reclined during the night is to place pillows along each side of your body and use a stack of pillows to rest your head and shoulders on, or temporarily sleeping on the couch can work better for some people, especially if you share a bed.
2. Use a Body Pillow
Propping a body pillow down the side of your body that you’ve received shoulder surgery on can mean that you can support the affected arm on the pillow while you sleep.
The pillow can also encourage you to remain on your back while you sleep and not roll onto the impacted shoulder.
3. Wearing a Sling
After your shoulder surgery, you might be given a sling that you’ll be advised to wear for some time to protect your shoulder.
It can be beneficial to wear a sling while you sleep too.
Wearing a sling to bed can help to secure the shoulder in one place, preventing movement that can cause discomfort, pain, or further complications.
Also, holding the shoulder in one position could speed up recovery by keeping the bones, ligaments, and shoulder structure in the correct placement to heal.
4. Pain Medication
Your doctor or surgeon will likely prescribe you a pain-relieving medication to take home after surgery. It’s vital to adhere to this course of treatment to avoid significant pain. If you’re in pain, then your sleep will be hindered, which can, in turn, affect recovery time.
If you feel that your pain relief isn’t effectively reducing the pain you’re experiencing after surgery, speak with your doctor, who can examine your prescription. Do not double on medications or begin taking over-the-counter treatments alongside them.
5. Get Plenty of Rest
Rest is vital after shoulder surgery. It includes heavy lifting, stretching, raising your arms, or too much exercise, especially weight training. Anything that involves the use of the arm, shoulder, neck, or back should be avoided.
Making sure your shoulder is being left to repair and recover with rest will mean less chance of injury and reduced pain, resulting in an all-around better night’s sleep.
6. Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
What you wear to bed after shoulder surgery can also impede your recovery. For example, wearing tight bras or anything with fastenings to the rear of the garment, which means you have to stretch, can cause injury. If you do feel you need to wear a bra, then front-fastening ones are strongly advised.
A Final Analysis
Sleeping after shoulder surgery is going to be a bit of a battle, especially in the first few days while you adjust after your procedure.
The primary focus is to avoid pressure on the affected shoulder during the day and while you sleep.
It could take up to six months for your shoulder to fully heal after surgery, especially for shoulder replacement. During that time, you must avoid sleeping on the shoulder altogether.
Avoiding anything overly strenuous after shoulder surgery to prevent damage and aid recovery is essential. It includes lifting, stretching the arms, and any activities that include excessive shoulder joint movement.
We understand it can be frustrating being in recovery for such a long time. However, adhering to the tips above will increase your chances of recovery free of complications.