Rotator Cuff Repair surgeries are notoriously painful! Many patients say it is the worst pain they have ever experienced. To make matters worse, you are bound up in a sling after surgery and can’t move the arm to try to “find a comfortable spot”. Most people are unable to lie down comfortably and need to sleep sitting up in a recliner. The pain after these surgeries gradually improves but for many patients can last several weeks. Sounds awful, right?
The next frontier in rotator cuff surgery is finding a way to make these operations hurt less. This is something that I work very hard at for my patients. Luckily there is a new technology that seems to be helping. The On-Q pump is a device that makes the nerve block given before surgery last up to three days. A nerve block is an injection of numbing medicine given by the Anesthesiologist before surgery. Typically these blocks will make the shoulder and arm numb for 12-18 hours, which allows the patient to get home comfortably before the pain starts. With the use of an On-Q pump the blocks can last up to three days. This allows patients to avoid the pain experienced during the first few days, which is the most intense.
I have been using this technique for over a year, and I have seen some great improvements. It doesn’t work for every patient but it makes a big difference for most. I have even had several patients tell me that they never had any pain after their surgery!