Notice: The post should not be used for medical decisions – it just reflects my experience going through ORIF surgery and rehabilitation. Always follow your doctor’s indications and ask him any time you are not sure of the evolution.
This guide might help a lot of people who got injured or went through shoulder surgery. It shows different ways to do stuff single-handed (in the kitchen, personal care, going to the bathroom, dressing, wearing a sling).
Week 1 (updated 07/05)
The first 3 days post op I could feel a dull pain (I figured it was the incision), but ice helped me get over it. I ended up with a numb area around the incision (quite common after surgery as some nerves get cut). I could only sleep on my back and wore shirts. I got surgery on Thursday, so Friday, Saturday and Sunday I slept and watched TV. On Monday I returned to my job, but I could only type with one hand. I followed the doctor’s indications and started basic recovery moves, making sure I do not put any pressure on the shoulder. I could exercise only when I was laying on my back, doing some basic hand rotations and raises from the elbow. I got my X-ray and got the bandage changed. Everything looked great! I got an extension on the allowed movements and can start wearing the arm sling less. Yay!
Week 2 (updated 07/13)
I started doing wall walks with my hand and arm rotations while laying on my back and using a stick with both hands. I started typing with both hands. Now I am able to put a t-shirt on and tie my shoe-laces – so much joy! No weights should be lifted. Also, you shouldn’t use your arm to get up from the bed or a chair. You really cannot lift anything because even if you use your good hand, the body tries to balance itself, so you’ll end up feeling your other shoulder protesting in pain. Still sleeping on my back with my arm sling. The numb area feels a little different now. I know I am touching the skin, and feel the touch, but it’s so much different than touching my right shoulder. I read it takes a few months until you get to feel that area again. I cannot run or even walk faster, as any impact or arm rotation comes with some pain. I read a text from someone who got cervical surgery at the same time with me and it’s what I also feel: at the beginning of the year I was thinking about improving my times, taking part in a lot of running contests and getting better at swim to get into triathlons. Now I just want to feel the pleasure of running. (Adrian Mila)
I miss driving, running, cycling and swimming.
2 weeks post-op, I got my Steri-strips removed. The wound is looking good. The doctor said we should meet in around one month for another check.
Week 3 (updated 07/15)
It’s been 15 days since the surgery and it seems so far away. I almost regained full mobility. I cannot lift heavy things, nor it’s recommended. I wear the sling while I sleep in order to prevent rolling on my stomach (one of my favorite sleeping positions) but I can finally sleep on my side, with the aid of the arm sling. For the last 3 weeks (from the accident) I could only sleep on my back. In the morning I feel my arm sore, but after some easy movements, everything is ok.
I tried doing an easy run, but the impact would get carried to the shoulder and it doesn’t feel good.
Week 4 (updated 07/25)
OMG!!! 3 and a half weeks post surgery I went out for an easy walk. I started doing this a while ago and also tried running, just to test myself, but I could feel a pain in my shoulder. Til now. This didn’t happen today. I ran 3 km, with easy walking every 1 km. It feels so good to be back. I really missed running and I couldn’t wait to get back in action. I want to go back to swimming, but I think I won’t be able to do so for the next 2 weeks. The doctor told me to take it slow, so I will do as he says.
Last night was the first since the surgery when I slept without the arm sling. I think my body got used to sleeping on my back or on the side and I didn’t roll too much, so I had a good sleep.
I can feel a discomfort in my shoulder when I do a sudden move. I think I can drive, but I like to be cautious. I don’t think I am able to quickly move my arm if I need to avoid an accident, so I prefer to be a passenger. I also don’t think the seatbelt would get along well with my incision. Everything seems ok with it, but I feel like the skin is somehow attached to the bone now. I can’t wait to get to ask the doctor about it. I still have a numb area, but it didn’t get worse. It will probably get better in time.