Shoulder surgery (rotator cuff surgery, shoulder replacement) is generally associated with significant post-operative pain. As such, I recommend a nerve block in addition to the general anaesthetic you receive as it will provide:
- Better pain control: you will need less pain medicine.
- Less side effects: you will have less chance of being itchy, nauseous, sleepy or having trouble going to the bathroom.
This is performed under light sedation immediately prior to your general anaesthetic, in order to minimise the procedural risk. I use an ultrasound machine to locate the nerves in your neck supplying your shoulder and gently inject local anaesthetic around these nerves.
You will wake from your surgery with a numb shoulder, forearm and hand which will last between 8 and 24 hours. Your arm will be in a sling to provide protection while you have no feeling. I will also provide an instruction sheet with a tailored plan on how to manage your pain when the nerve block wears off.
Please see the patient information section on Peripheral nerve blocks for further information.
Blood pressure monitoring
Shoulder surgery, according to the surgeon’s discretion, may be performed in the ‘upright chair position’. As this position is associated with potentially dangerous drops in your blood pressure, I will usually place a small ‘arterial monitor’ in your wrist for the duration of your surgery to allow closer monitoring. This is usually placed after you go to sleep. It causes minimal discomfort, and is usually removed in the recovery area shortly after you wake up.