Bone surgery

The follow-up appointment for shoulder surgery

Most people we interviewed talked about the follow-up appointment, which was often 6 weeks after surgery, and what happened at it.
Many people were unsure who they’d see at the follow-up appointment and what it would involve. Participants were often expecting to see the surgeon who’d operated on them but said they’d been given very little information about it.
One woman was expecting to see the surgeon at follow-up. Her appointment with the physio went well and she was discharged. The physio was happy with how the patient’s wounds had healed and with her range of movement. She showed her more exercises to do. 

Jenny wanted to see the surgeon at the follow-up appointment so she could ask if her other shoulder could be operated on. She’d been having pain since her operation and was unsure why. An appointment with the consultant would have helped her find out what was causing the pain and what the doctors could do to help.

Some people said they would have liked the follow-up appointment sooner – after 3 or 4 weeks for example – rather than at 6 weeks or more. Several felt ready to progress to more challenging exercises but were wary of doing so without seeing a professional first. See our resources section for more information.

At her six week follow-up appointment, Mary found out that she’d been doing one of the exercises incorrectly. She would have liked to have seen the physio sooner. Even though she’d looked at the exercise booklet and watched the TEPI exercise video, she’d found it hard to copy the exercise. At follow-up, Mary had her shoulder strapped up to help correct the positioning. After the tape came off, she started the exercises again and felt much better. Soon afterwards, though, she started having ‘episodes’ of severe pain that were sudden and ‘excruciating’. The pain eventually settled down but Mary would like to know what is causing it and if it’ll stop. She has another follow-up appointment arranged but is unsure if she’ll see the physio again or another professional.
Alan’s shoulder was also strapped up at the follow-up appointment.
Patricia had had a very difficult time after surgery and was disappointed with it and the amount of time it was taking to get a physiotherapy appointment. She still had a lot of pain and limited arm movement, and these were making daily activities difficult. At the time of interview, she was waiting to have physio and would have liked to have seen a consultant sooner about the problems she was having.
Last reviewed August 2018.

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