Extreme pain 5 weeks post slap/decompression

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Hi everyone, I’m a 35 year old male, this is my first post here and hoping someone might have some answers or suggestions for me. 

I’m 5 weeks post surgery for a labrum tear in my shoulder from 10-11 o’clock so quite small really, as well as a subacromial decompression and clavicle resection. Pre surgery I had pain for about 8 months, nothing too bad, but I experienced pain sleeping at night and some burning from the AC joint arthritis, as well as pain when overhead lifting.  An mri showed AC arthritis, and a subscapularis tear. Physical tests by my orthopedic surgeon also correlated with that so I was booked for a subscap repair, biceps tenodesis, decompression and resection. I’d had 2 cortisone injections and they hadn’t helped.

The day after the surgery the surgeon saw me and said I had a slap tear, so that was fixed, as well as the decompression etc, but he said the subscap turned out to be fine. I was in a sling for 5 weeks and early on was only having some paracetamol and a pain patch for the first week. The pain wasn’t that bad, and I kept my excercises up. 3 days ago I came out of the sling and was to start Physio and aim for full rom at 1kg max weight for the next 4 weeks. I went to an indoor pool on his recommendation and spent 45 minutes moving it around under water and it felt quite good. It actually felt really good and I was so happy to finally be out of the sling. My wife wanted a new blind in the kitchen and seeings how I was feeling good I installed a small light weight blind 2 days ago. There was only a little pain and I only spent a few minutes doing it, and didn’t think much of it. Later that day I had my first Physio session and by that stage it was starting to really hurt so the Physio just did some massage and a bit of pulley work. An hour or so after getting home from that it started getting worse and worse, and for the last 48 hours has been excruciating. Far worse than any pain I’d previously had in it, and probably the worst pain I think I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had to take endone/OxyContin every 4 hours and I’ve put the sling back on. Even when slowly walking just the slightest movements are agony, and lying dead still now on bed I’d say the pains a 6/10. Any slight movement I can feel popping and catching, and the pain that comes with it is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I had a little bit of poppping and catching earlier in the recovery but not much extra pain came with it.

Any thoughts if I’ve just overdone it or could I have retorn the labrum? What’s everyone else’s shoulder recovery been like when they came out of the sling? I won’t be able to see the surgeon for another week as he’s away, so if I need to follow it up before then it’ll be a visit to the local public hospital

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Although the surgery I had is completely different ( I had a 95% rotator cuff tear). My surgery was Jan 31st this year. So I am about 5 1/2 months post-op.

    However, I can relate to that horrible pain. I have learned thru this blog, and reading the many comments here, that shoulder surgery is the worst as far as healing and pain. I too sat and cried with the pain, that I had no idea would happen. Until I found this site. There are so many great people here and I am sure someone else will answer you that had the same or similar surgery.

    I guess I just wanted to say, you're not alone, and you are now in a new club.

    It will get better, but because you said the pain is worse then before surgery I would be worried too.

    Is there a Dr that's on stand by or a nurse of his you can at least talk to on the phone?

    Good luck with it all. If it helps, I went swimming at a Pool Party for the 4th, anf the next day my shoulder was killing me. Perhaps that's part of healing..it hurts cause we are moving it differently? Good luck!!

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  • Posted

    For me...I was shocked to hear you were doing so well so quickly. I was 3 months the in the sling off and on, sleeping in the chair for 3 months and had pretty good pain for 5 months.  Lifting one pound was months after my surgery, my PT was super cautious as the rate of failed/repeated tears is so high. The only wY you will really know is with another MRI and most insurance won’t pay for one until 6 months post opt I’ve heard. 

    Rest that arm, ice it, drug it...lots of pillows were my friends!

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the replies Jan and Mia. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next week. If it doesn’t get any better and he wants another MRI to see what’s going on i get them for free at our public hospital and usually only have to wait a week-10 days which is great. I’m worried I’ve undone the repair as the pain really wasn’t that bad since the surgery and it just seems strange to flare up this bad so suddenly. I’m icing it on and off today and will hope for the best 
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  • Posted

    It sounds like you may have done too much. I'm surprised you were allowed to be in the pool as swimming is not usually recommended early on. maybe you were just doing movement below horizontal and would probably be ok. but hanging a blind, maybe too much. Hard to say what is going on but it's good you put the sling back on. I was in sling for 6 weeks and when I came out, I had sudden onset of severe pain after reaching behind to pull up my pants. I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup for 12 weeks. That may be because I had bicep tenodesis as well as rotator cuff repair and subacromial decompression. There were definitely some rough patches along the way. I am now 16 months after surgery. I went back to work after 6 months and I followed a conservative rehab regimen pretty strictly as I did not want to do this again. Every surgery is different so following Dr instructions as well as listening to the wisdom of the body is best. I hope your pain settles. Mine took about 4 days after the severe onset of pain and my Dr was also away for a week when it happened. I did contact the PT and they assured me it was probably normal reaction to activity and to see MD when they could get me in. Wish you the best!

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    • Posted

      Thanks mate, yeah I should clarify not actually swimming, just floating around and moving it, and not really above my head. He said it’s good as it’s a weightless type excercise so I’m not really using the muscles and just doing it to improve rom. Kind of frustrated in a way that he never really told me what I can and can’t do. It was just take the sling off in 5 weeks and work on full rom no heavier than 1kg (2.2lbs). I’m definitely taking it very easy until I next see the Physio in a weeks time, and on a positive the pain has settled down a little bit now and It’s been 4 hours since I had any Endone. Still worse than anything pre and post surgery, but noticeably better than the 48 hours I experienced. 
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    • Posted

      I was given exercises to do in the pool by my p/t. When you feel better, ask your p/t for specific exercises. I did a web search for shoulder surgery pool exercises. I'm glad that it's summer here and that the outdoor pools are open because it is so much easier to do the exercises in the pool. I also swam a little bit of one armed breast stroke but am forbidden from swimming otherwise by my surgeon. 

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    • Posted

      Every surgery is different. How much you should be doing and how long you are going to be in a sling and whether or not you are in an immobilizer depends on the kind of surgery so it's up to your doctor to give you a protocol and for you to follow it with the help of your p/t. I had a full labrum tear but it was only a thin tear, I was in a sling for 4 weeks  with no immobilizer and started pendulum swings within the first week. Others have much thicker tears or only partial tears and others have decompression surgery which for me was a quick and easy recovery, I was out of my sling in one day. One of the problems with getting advice on the internet is that people have had different surgeries/surgeons. Listen to your body and your medical team and take the advice that you get here with a grain of salt. This forum helped me out a lot because I could see that others had gone through the same thing that I had, in one way or another. Shoulder surgery is a long recovery.

       

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  • Posted

    My pain was worse after surgery for a few weeks.

    I think that maybe many of us have thought we were doing well, done something stupid and found out that maybe we shouldn't have done it. Of course we have no way to know if you've re-torn your labrum, I hope that you haven't and probably you wont know for a few weeks. My advice is to ice a lot, take a break until things calm down. Ask your doctor if you can take anti-inflammatories, a lot of people get relief from a topical one called diclofenac gel that you can apply directly to your shoulder. Some doctors like to wait until the 6th week or so but you're at 5 weeks so that's probably fine. 

    Mostly, Ice ice ice. Good luck.

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  • Posted

    You are going to fast. You should only be doing pendulum exercises! It takes 6 months to a year for this to be done,,be patient and know your limits.
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    • Posted

       Actually my surgeon that is extremely conservative when it comes to this surgery absolutely positively says no pendulum swings whatsoever. He’s one of those surgeons that teaches at conferences and does constant updates on statistics. And when people start doing pendulum swings theres a higher risk of re-tearing it. 

      He said this-  immobilizer for six weeks 24/7

       Don’t take it out of the sling at all. ( except arrested on the table when someone changing you or washing you )

      Once you take it out (after 6weeks) you bend over and dangle it slightly without swinging or moving it at all!

      Doing table slides 3x every day and that’s it until you start physical therapy. He was adamant about that because he has seen so many people swing it and re-tear it!

      Better to be safe than sorry and always find a surgeon that’s up to date on new  technics ! 

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  • Posted

    i agree every surgery and every surgeon is different. I had supraspinous repair for a 75% depth 4 cm tear and decompression for a bone spur that started this by tearing through my tendon while reaching backwards. I am just starting week 5 post rotator cuff surgery. Mostly things have been good. More problems with muscles in biceps than actually having pain. Week one was very hard. Did little for myself and slept a lot. Started therapy day 3 post op and started Pendleton’s and wrist And elbow active ROM. Used a 2 liter bottle and with help showered on day 4. Week 2 pendulum exercises was still difficult, but better, also use ball on immobilizer 25 times multiple times during day. Still a lot bruising and swelling by elbow and shoulder. Therapy twice a week continues and no changes in exercises. Week 3 continuing ice many times a day and use icey Hot to back of neck to help relax muscles. Week 4 went to doctor and sutures are out. Started massage to and around scar to help break up scare tissue and added table stretches times two to arm. Pain ranges from slight pull too muscle cramps to slight aching or tenderness. Therapy wants to watch for ice pick like pain. Took half wedge from immobilizer away per surgeon.Out of sling when sitting and not moving and showered alone using pendulum to get shirt on and off and apply deodorant. Therapy continues twice a week and now added pully exercises. Home exercises continue minimum 3 times a day. Taking ibuprofen twice a day and occasionally hydro/ Tylenol at night or morning. Shoulder feels more loose this week and pain is intermittent and muscle tightness has become more intermittent in biceps. Immobilizer is off around 25% day in chair and exercises. Pullys at home three times a day. Continue ice and started heat alternating to increase blood flow. ROM has doubled since last week and have been able to feed self with surgical arm at times. Able to get under arm easier and feel like healing this week. Feel like I am healing more normal this week.

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