Particularly after major surgery, sleep disturbances are commonplace. And having trouble sleeping after shoulder surgery is no different. According to the British Journal of Anaesthesia, the body goes through a metabolic and hormonal response to the trauma of surgery referred to as the “surgical stress response”. This response, along with other post-surgery side effects such as pain, fever, sore incision, anesthesia, insomnia, and medications, can disrupt both the quality and quantity of sleep a person receives after shoulder surgery.
The shoulder joint is made up of three main bones (the clavicle, the scapula, and the humerus); the shoulder bones work in tandem with muscles, ligaments, and tendons to give us movement. Unfortunately, sometimes a strain, injury, or faulty movement can result in pain, torn ligaments, or even dislocation. Although the first options are rest, physical therapy, cortisone injections, or medications for pain, sometimes the injury is so severe that surgery is needed.
There are a number of shoulder problems, each with their own likely cause and unique treatments. For example, bursitis or tendinitis often results from repetitive activities, such as painting, swimming, or weight lifting. Rotator cuff tears, whether partial or full, can be the result of a fall or heavy lifting. Either way, chronic inflammation is involved and sometimes spurs form. Fractures, including the collar bone or humerus, are other painful shoulder problems that may be treated with slings or surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can also impact the shoulder joint, especially as one ages. While medications and physical therapy can help with these conditions, in some cases, shoulder replacement surgery is needed.
Open surgery and arthroscopy are the two main types of surgical procedures used in the treatment of shoulder problems. The type of shoulder surgery your physician recommends is largely dependent on the severity of your injury. Depending on the type of surgery you undergo, comfortable sleeping after shoulder surgery will be more or less of an issue.
It’s quite common to have difficulty sleeping after shoulder surgery, particularly in the first few days. Some people find it especially difficult to “get comfortable” and are unable to lean on the arm that had the surgery. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get more comfortable so you can get the sleep you need for your shoulder to heal:
The most important thing to realize about sleeping after shoulder surgery is that it will get better over time. Just follow your doctor’s orders, and in no time you’ll be back to sleeping in your normal sleeping pattern.
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