Sleep. The incredible time when our body is at work healing itself and our brain processes the day while we do nothing. We don’t consider our sleep patterns too often until they are interrupted. Then, we realize that sleep, or the lack of it, affects us more than we realize.
Sleep is important for the healing process after surgery. Many patients who have just had shoulder surgery have some difficulty sleeping because they just can’t seem to get comfortable at night.
Here are some tips for sleeping after shoulder surgery.
- Sleep on an Incline. Do not sleep flat on your back. Sleeping on an incline for 4-6 weeks after surgery is best. For the first week or two, a recliner may be the most comfortable option. Purchasing a 45 degree wedge from a medical supply store can also provide a stable base to prop yourself up in the bed.
- Wear your sling. Wearing your sling during the day helps keep your arm in the proper position but also provides protection. This is true at night as well. Wearing your sling at night for the first week can help protect your shoulder from movement and keep it properly positioned while you sleep.
- Use a pillow prop. Place a small pillow between your healing shoulder and your torso. This extra support will keep circulation open to your shoulder. Blood flow is essential for healing because our blood carries oxygen. Oxygen promotes the growth of collagen and helps control infection.
- Time your medications. Plan out your mediation schedule so that you are taking your pain medication about 30 minutes before bedtime. This will help ensure that you are pain free when you are ready to sleep. In addition, taking your medication right before bed will give you a long period of rest before having to wake up again to take your medication.
- Ice before bed. Icing your shoulder before you go to sleep will help numb the nerves and reduce inflammation which will help you get to sleep faster. Remember to have a towel or soft cloth between the ice and your skin to avoid frostbite or irritation.
You need to be able to rest after surgery so that your body can heal effectively. These tips can help minimize discomfort and maximize your sleep. If you are still not sleeping well two weeks after surgery, then call the office so that we can evaluate your healing and adjust treatment to help you get the sleep your body needs.
Dr. Kevin Kruse is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, orthopedic surgeon specializing in Shoulder injuries and arthroscopic Shoulder surgery in North Texas.