How do I sleep after a shoulder surgery?

Pain in the shoulder is a common side effect after shoulder surgery due to discomfort. The pain can worsen due to the pressure put on the shoulder when lying down, making it difficult to sleep. Pain caused by movements while asleep can also cause patients to wake up during the night, resulting in an un-restful night of sleep.

Fortunately, there are a few different suggestions to help resolve this common post-surgery complaint:

  1. Sleep in a reclining position because lying down can worsen the pain in the shoulder. Some patients have reported success sleeping in a reclining chair rather than a bed. This can be especially helpful and beneficial in the first few days after the surgery when the pain is more intense.
  2. If you not have access to a reclining chair, another option would be to use pillows to prop yourself up into an upright position. Propping your arm and elbow up with a pillow can also help alleviate the pain. Pillows can also be placed around you to prevent excessive movement while asleep.
  3. If these options do not help bring relief, and you still experience trouble sleeping more than a week after surgery it is recommended that you speak to your physician to determine the proper treatment plan. Medications may be one option to consider if the issue persists. You may also discuss taking off the sling for short periods of time at the discretion of your doctor. It is important to wear the sling because it protects the shoulder, but taking it off occasionally at home can help decrease pain and stiffness is appropriate based on the surgery.

Sleeping after a shoulder surgery can be difficult, but fortunately it is usually temporary. Over time, symptoms will decrease as the tendons and ligaments heal, leading to a healthier and more functional shoulder.

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