Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery


  • Start with clear liquids (jello, soup broth, Gatorade, etc.), crackers, white bread and other light foods
  • Progress slowly to heavier foods as you tolerate the lighter foods without any nausea

Wound Care

  • Keep your dressing clean and dry and in place for two days after surgery.
  • On day 2 after surgery, you may remove your dressing. It is normal for there to be some blood staining on the dressings. If the wounds are completely dry, you may just place band-aids over them. There will often be little yellow gauze over the incisions as well which can be removed and thrown away. If there is a small amount of drainage still coming from the wounds, place a clean and dry dressing on them daily until the drainage stops. If the drainage continues, call Dr. Roth’s office to inform him.
  • Once the incisions are completely dry for 24 hours, you may shower. Let the water and soap run over the incisions and pat them dry with a clean towel after the shower. Do not scrub the incisions or vigorously dry them.


  • You may prefer to keep a gauze pad or towel in your armpit while the arm is in the sling to keep the skin from chaffing
  • When you are permitted to shower, you will not be able to lift the arm up over your head to wash under your armpit. A nice trick is to bend forward at the waist, and just let the arm dangle. This will allow gravity to open up the space under your armpit so that you can wash under your armpit without using any of the muscles of your shoulder. (This is essentially the same position you will be in when you do your pendulum exercises, described below in the EXERCISE section.)


  • Generally, putting on a shirt or sweatshirt with buttons or a zipper on the front (e.g. button-down shirt, hoodie, etc.) is easiest to wear after shoulder surgery, as compared to a shirt that has to be pulled over your head (e.g. t-shirt, pullover sweater, etc.).
  • When putting on a button-down shirt, let the operative arm dangle, and use the good arm to pull the shirt sleeve over your operative arm FIRST, then reach back with the good arm to find the other arm hole and put the other sleeve on.
  • When taking off a button-down shirt, reverse the process described above for putting it on – first take off the sleeve with the good arm, and then use the good arm to help take off the sleeve on the operative arm.
  • In the beginning, sweat pants or looser fitting pants that can be pulled up with one arm are usually easiest to put on
  • Slip on shoes are usually easier in the beginning than shoes with laces that need to be tied
  • Similarly, socks can be difficult in the beginning with just one hand, and you may need someone to help you put socks on, or choose to wear shoes without socks until you are able to put them on on your own


  • You will usually have a nerve block which will last for 8-16 hours after surgery. You will likely start to feel some tingling in your arm and your hand when the nerve block starts to wear off. This is the sign that the pain is soon to follow, so you want to start taking your pain medication at this time.
  • Studies have suggested that Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may impair or inhibit tendon healing. If at all possible, it is best to try to avoid NSAIDs for a period of 2 weeks after surgery.
  • You have been given a prescription at your preoperative visit for narcotic pain medications (OxyCODONE, Percocet, Norco, etc.). Dr. Roth may have given you a long acting medication (OXYCONTIN) which is to be taken twice per day for the first three days after surgery only. You can take this medication at 8pm the night of your surgery. You have also been given a short acting medication (e.g. Percocet) which should be taken as soon as you start to feel some tingling in your toes or any suggestion of pain.
  • If you have a history of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), be sure to let Dr. Roth know as he may decide to change your post-operative pain regimen.
  • If your narcotic pain medication has ACETAMINOPHEN in it (e.g. Norco, Percocet) then you cannot also take TYLENOL, which is the same medication.
  • Side effects of the pain medication include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness and lightheadedness. Taking the medication with food will decrease the risk of nausea. For constipation, it is recommended that you take a stool softener while taking the narcotic. Colace can be purchased over the counter. Take one tab 2-3 times per day.
  • Try to wean off of the narcotic pain medication as soon as possible. Adding in NSAIDs (e.g. Advil 600 mg 4 times per day OR Aleve 440 mg twice per day) at two weeks after surgery will help you transition away from the narcotic medications. Fibrous tissue has organized by then so NSAIDs will no longer affect tissue healing.
  • Dr. Roth’s Suggested Post-Operative Pain Management Regimens (Percocet and oxyCONTIN used as an example, but be sure to confirm which medication has been prescribed by Dr. Roth) OxyCONTIN (if prescribed) is typically only prescribed for the first three days after surgery. After that, just continue with the Percocet.
    Suggested Pain Regimen
    8 AM 1 OxyCONTIN (if prescribed)
    Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
    12 PM (NOON) Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
    4 PM Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
    8 PM 1 OxyCONTIN (if prescribed)
    Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
    12 AM (MIDNIGHT) Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
    4 AM (IF NEEDED) Pain Level 0-2: NO Percocet
    Pain Level 3-6: ONE Percocet
    Pain Level 7-10: TWO Percocet
  • Do NOT drive a car or operate any heavy machinery while you are taking narcotic pain medication (OxyCODONE, Oycontin, Norco, Percocet, Tylenol #3, etc.)


  • Sleeping is likely to be the most comfortable sitting in a slightly upright position either in a reclining chair (e.g. Lazy-Boy) or on the bed with 4 or 5 pillows stacked up behind your back. You may also want to place a pillow under your forearm to support the arm.
  • Avoid any activities which increase pain and swelling such as lifting things, or prolonged periods of standing standing/walking for the first 7-10 days after surgery as these activities are likely to increase the swelling of your leg.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting without the arm supported, or long distance travel for 2 weeks after surgery if possible.
  • No driving until discussed in the office with Dr. Roth.
  • You may return to sedentary work / school 3-4 days after surgery if swelling and pain are tolerable and you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications.
  • DO NOT SMOKE cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, dip, chew, or any other tobacco product for at least 3 months after surgery if at all possible, as these will all inhibit healing of the repair, increase the risk of infection, and decrease the ability of the wound to heal.

Sling (Immobilizer)

  • Dr. Roth will let you know at your first post-operative visit exactly what the entire duration of sling use will be for your particular surgery, but it will usually be for 4-6 weeks.
  • Until you are seen at your first post-operative visit, the sling is to be worn at all times, but may be removed for the following activities: hygiene (e.g. showering), exercises (described below), eating, using a computer, or reading.
  • Putting the sling on and taking it off can take some practice, and it is usually easiest to do it first a few times with someone helping you. After a while, you will likely get very good at doing it yourself. Many patients find it easiest to leave the shoulder strap clipped together, and place the sling with the pillow attached onto a table or countertop, and then to use the good arm to place the operative arm into the sling, resting it on the table. Then, with the injured arm supported by the table, the good arm can reach over and grab the shoulder strap and pull it over your head.

Ice Therapy

  • Dr. Roth highly recommends purchasing an ice machine for the post-operative period as it is much more convenient than ice packs, however, if necessary, ice packs are sufficient as well.
  • Start ice immediately after surgery. You will have a bulky dressing on your hip and therefore you may not feel like the cold is penetrating, but it is still helping.
  • Ice for 20 minutes a minimum of four times daily, or more often if you prefer, but no more often than 20 minutes every hour. Be sure there is always something between the ice pack and your skin and do NOT ice for longer than 20 minutes at a time or you could get frostbite.
  • If you had a block at the time of surgery, your leg may be numb for up to 24 hours. It is particularly important during this time to be aware of the clock when you are icing as you will not feel the cold and frostbite is a real concern.


  • During business hours, contact Sabrina in Dr. Roth’s office at 510-267-4013. If you are not getting through to Sabrina because she is busy in the office and not able to immediately answer the phone, contact the Webster Call Center at 800-943-8099 and they will track down Dr. Roth.
  • For concerns that cannot be addressed during business hours, call the Webster Call Center at 800-943-8099.
    • For the first 48 hours after surgery, the call center will put you through directly to Dr. Roth’s cell phone if you would like. Dr. Roth feels that it is very important that you have the opportunity to speak directly to your surgeon rather than to an “on-call” physician within the first 48 hours after surgery if you have concerns. Because Dr. Roth is typically at home with his family during these times, he would appreciate the use of discretion when taking advantage of this service. If you feel you have a simple question that you would be comfortable with the on-call physician handling, please inform the call center
  • Please contact Dr. Roth’s office immediately if any of the following are present, or for any other concerns:
    • Pain that is not controlled by the regimen described above
    • Pain that is unrelenting or getting worse over time rather than staying the same or improving
    • Numbness that lasts longer than 24 hours after surgery
    • Fever (greater than 101° - low grade fever is normal for the first few days after surgery)
    • Redness around the incisions
    • Continuous drainage or bleeding from the incision (some drainage is expected)
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chest Pain
    • Light headedness or passing out o Uncontrollable nausea, vomiting
    • Color change in the operative extremity o Blistering of the skin
  • If you have an emergency that requires immediate attention, proceed to the nearest Emergency Room.


Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Pendulums.png

Unless instructed otherwise by Dr. Roth, you may start your exercises 24 hours after surgery.


Bend over at the waist and let the arm dangle. Rock your body in a circular and side to side motion and try to think about letting the arm go completely limp, like a wet noodle. Try to avoid using the muscles of the arm to initiate movement but rather use the rocking motion of your body so that the arm swings, like a pendulum.

Heel Props

Shoulder Shrugs

Shrug shoulders upward

Shoulder Blade Pinches

Shoulder Blade Pinches

  • Pinch shoulder blades together
  • Move wrist and fingers
  • Bend and straighten elbow (if you had a biceps tenodesis, no ACTIVE elbow flexion until 4 weeks after surgery, but OK to use other hand to bend and straighten the elbow passively)
  • Try to do your exercises a minimum of 3 times per day after surgery, more is OK.
  • Formal outpatient physical therapy will usually begin at around 3 weeks from surgery, depending on your surgery.
  • At one week after surgery, it is OK to begin generalized conditioning, e.g. gentle exercise bike, going for walks, etc.


  • If you do not already have a follow-up appointment scheduled, please contact Dorothy at (510) 267-4016 to arrange an appointment. Follow-up appointments are generally 7-10 days after surgery.