Relief of pain

The anaesthetist may have used a nerve block: Your limb may be still numb for a couple of hours, and you will not feel any pain. You will also not be able to use your arm.

You will be given a sling to support the arm. You may experience pins and needles in the blocked arm or hand, particularly when the anaesthetic starts to wear off.

You should start taking your pain relief medicines before the nerve block wears off. When you start feeling pins and needles, we suggest that you take some pain relief medication as prescribed.

You should be careful around anything hot or sharp, as your numb arm will not be able to feel this, and you may get a burn or a cut (e.g., hot objects such as hot water bottles, radiators etc.).

*DO NOT operate machinery while the arm is numb as there is a potential for injury.

Provided you do not have an allergy to the painkiller, it is safe to use over-the-counter painkillers to reduce your pain so you can be more active.

It is important to use painkillers carefully, as they have side effects. Paracetamol is the simplest and safest painkiller. However, always get advice before taking paracetamol if you have liver or kidney problems.

You could also try anti-inflammatory tablets like Ibuprofen as long as you don’t have a condition (such as a stomach ulcer) that prevents you using them.

Always take your painkillers at regular intervals at the recommended dose / exactly as prescribed. This is to make sure they work as well as possible for you. The aim is for pain control to be constant.

Putting off taking painkillers can make the pain more severe. It may then take longer to get it under control when you do take them.

If over-the-counter painkillers do not work, ask for help from your GP or pharmacist.

Changing position and using a pillow to support the wound can help reduce discomfort.

Please do not use a hot water bottle as this can lead to scalding of the skin. 

Check with your GP if you have been prescribed other analgesia.

Persistent Pain

If you experience persistent pain after 48 hours you may need advice from your GP.

  • Avoid lying flat. Support yourself in bed with 2-3 pillows.
  • Rest and try to relax in a warm and quiet place, for example on the sofa, or in bed.
  • You may find it helpful to read or watch television, to take your mind off the pain.
  • Try to keep your wound protected and gently supported with the sling.
  • Ask a friend or relative to look after you for a few days. This is particularly useful if you have children.


You should try and rest as much as possible. Remember you’ve have had an operation.

The physiotherapist will guide and give you information about exercises and activity

When can I drive?

We advise NO driving until advised by your physiotherapist or surgeon


If you are concerned about discomfort when the stitches are removed / dressing looked at, consider taking a simple pain relief, e.g. paracetamol, an hour before your appointment. Steri-strips (sticky strips) may be applied over the wound following suture removal to help support the wound.

Remember once the stitches have been removed / absorbed the wound may appear healed but it will not be strong. It can take several months for skin to regain its strength and flexibility. Treat the area with care.


Mobilise as tolerated out of sling after ………. days

Wear the sling at all times (except when exercising) including in bed for 4 weeks.

The ice pack, days 1 – 6

Do not put an ICE pack directly on your skin.

Must only be used when the feeling has returned to the shoulder.

Use ICE pack for pain and inflammation:  15 to 20 minutes every hour if needed.


The signs of infection can be any of the following:

  • Increasing pain at the site
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • A pus-like discharge
  • Flu like symptoms. With raised temperature.


The operation site will be checked for bleeding before you leave the department.

If bleeding occurs at home, do not disturb the dressing. Press firmly on the area, for a full 15 minutes (by a clock). Do not take the dressing off, put an additional “pressure dressing” on top of the original

If bleeding persists you will need to visit your practice nurse or local Emergency Department for assessment. A clean dressing will be provided once bleeding has settled if this is necessary.

Be vigilant for bleeding if you take anticoagulants, e.g. Aspirin or Warfarin.

If you are concerned about any of the above, see your practice nurse promptly.


A referral for on-going physiotherapy has been made and they will be in contact with you, however, should you wish to contact them their number is 01935 384358

Post anaesthetic instructions

  • You must be accompanied home by a responsible adult age 18 year +
  • You must not be left alone for 48 hours after your anaesthetic.
  • Do not lock the bathroom or toilet door for the next 48 hours.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise until advised by surgeon / physiotherapist
  • No driving a car or riding a bicycle until advised by surgeon / physiotherapist.
  • No alcohol or sleeping tablets for 48 hours.
  • No using anything that could potentially cause harm, such as machinery, a kettle, cooker or iron for the next 48 hours.
  • No signing legal documents for the next 48 hours.
  • No looking after young children alone for the next 48 hours.

Ref: 04/21/68
Review: 07/23