Can't lie down or recline post shoulder op. Pain meds at max.

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 10/18/2011 5:08 PM (GMT -6)   
Does anyone have a suggestion for finding a post shoulder surgery sleeping position that doesn't raise pain to agony?
As usual, I wasn't happy with anesthesia.  One of several aggravations this time was because of too much something, maybe fentanyl, that gave me uncontrolled nausea even after the max allowed doses of Zofran and Phenergan.  Fortunately I had a little paregoric with me!  I will ask for the intra-operative report.  Then there was the .2 mg dose of dilaudid that was supposed to take care of any pain in recovery. 
The docs all left before I was awake, so didn't talk to me, even anesthesiologist!  They only told dil that I was awake.  The Rx to go home with was 5mg Vicodin.  For a chronic pain patient? I was SO mad, couldn't even ask anyone for something else since they were gone for the day.  At least I had my regular pain pills at home!  That or spend $50 and find a ride to the ER at midnight when the nerve block wore off.  I called this morning and got a scrip for Percocet, 2 pills at a time.  It was still a 30 mile round trip for dil and 3 little kids.
The pain is tolerable on Percocet while standing, but since the block wore off, I haven't found any combination of meds, my regular scrips from PCP and pain doc included, or any position on couch, recliner, pillows, with or without sling, that keep the level 8 stabs from the biceps tendon area under control enough to sleep.  I called the surgeon's nurse, and she told me it will get better in a few days.  I wonder if the biceps tendon was even repaired.  I only got some pics of bone shaving.  Not allowed to ask until appointment in 10 days.
Small additional annoyance - a LOT of info on my chart is wrong.  Lists me as taking Percocet, which I don't, several others, several allergies I don't have, lots of conditions wrong too.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 235
   Posted 10/18/2011 8:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Alice,sorry to hear your feeling so bad ,I had a rib removed 3weeks ago for relielf Thoracic Outlet syndrom.The only way Iould sleep was on my back with a pillow supporting my arm,this might work for you.Ialso found the back of my biceps felt like hamburger meat? this lasted about 8days.Ineeded more pain meds after my surgery then before ,but that only lasted aweek,Inow reducing the meds.So Ican understand how badly you feel ,but it will pass .seems to take forever,as Istill don't feel good,but everyday is getting better for me!Ican only hope the same for you!Its strange that things hurt as they heal.I bet it tough having little kids to tend to as well!I hope you can get enough rest has it sure helps the healing process.Ihope my pillow support idea helps you ,Take care from michele

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 2861
   Posted 10/18/2011 9:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Could you possibly sleep in a recliner, only half reclined? I have to do that sometimes with my shoulder blade pain...hoping for a speedy recovery and some good sleep


White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 10/19/2011 10:08 AM (GMT -6)   
I am not exactly sure what type of surgery you had done on your shoulder, but a number of years ago, I had some nerve impingement in my right shoulder. The did arthroscopic  surgery they shaved the bone to allow more room for the nerves to pass through and took out scar tissue. Anyway after the surgery, I slept in a recliner, and I used pillow under my arm to prop it up and also a small on to put behind the arm, to ease the pain and get more comfort for I could sleep. I suggest that you get some small pillows and experiment with them till you find what is the best for you.
I hope this helps and I do wish you well
White Beard
PS, you are not alone with the pain management thing, I have never had a surgery since I have started treatment for chronic pain, that my pain management was any where close to being adequate!  I had a very similar experience as what you are describing, and I also live 40 miles from the doctor and hospital where everything was done! It just seems that we are suppose to just "Grin and Bare it"  Just like I had to do so many years in the military! Alcie good luck to you!!!!
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Post Edited (White Beard) : 10/19/2011 9:13:46 AM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 10/19/2011 12:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Michele, Maggie, White Beard, Thanks for the sympathy and suggestions. I learn a lot from everyone's experiences.

Surgery was supposed to be shaving the clavicle and acromion process, grinding off the bone spurs, bursa removal, cleaning up the biceps tendon. All pretty usual procedures. I'm not allowed to ask until my followup visit in a week. :(

Today is better. I'm taking more pain meds than I've ever taken before, also diazepam for muscle relaxation and double my Ambien for sleep. Last night it was easier to sleep in bed than in the recliner, actually got 3 hours sleep, then 2 one hour stretches. On top of my regular tramadol I have Norco 10 mg and Percocet, alternating every 2 hours, diazepam when the pain meds aren't enough, and Ambien 10 mg to get to sleep. I am trying to wait as long as possible without getting to the point of making things worse. I think I'll be able to cut the pain meds down by half later today if it keeps getting better.

Lying on my back is painful because of scoliosis and a deteriorating discs. The pain meds make it possible for now. Reclining on my small leather recliner is very painful. I don't know what it is about the shoulder that makes every level of reclining so bad. Pillows of all sizes don't seem to help, but I'll keep on trying. (good idea, WB) Sitting upright hurts my back horribly within a few minutes. Standing is fine, but I'm not a horse.

Itching like crazy under the clear bandage cover. I'm wondering if it's another allergy. I have irritation with some kinds of tape. I called about the conflicting written directions about removing bandage: 1 page said take off in 3 days, another not for 10 days at office visit. I'm allowed to take it off and replace with fresh, but keep on 10 days.

My right hand, where I had 3 trigger fingers released, is extremely stiff, sore and fingers curved into a claw. I'm hoping it's just residual inflammation, swelling. Fluids tend to run distally.

Michele, at least the kids are grandkids and I can give them back. My poor daughter-in-law has to haul me around, run and get things for me, on top of getting one kid to and from kindergarten and hauling the other 2 along on all the excursions. I am so thankful she is so caring!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 10/19/2011 2:23 PM (GMT -6)   
I just wanted to send Prayers and wishes for a speddy recovery...
thinking of you and sorry your post op pain wasn't taken care of like it should've been...
Thinking of you...
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...
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