I had right shoulder surgery (by scope) that included repair of the supraspinatus (95%) and work on the acrimon and clavicle to relieve impingement problems. About two and half weeks later, I woke up one morning to find the back of my right hand highly swollen. The doctor's explanation is that it's due to gravity, i.e., swelling moving down from the shoulder. While shoulder rehab has gone very well - I'm weeks ahead of the average customer - it's now a full month and the swelling has not diminished at all. Up to the time it started, I could grip with my right hand and use it carefully (in the sling) for a number of things, including cutting cheese. Since then, I can barely curl my fingers to top of palm level and generally use it only for "gross" actions and fingertip ones like typing. There is no reason, either by cause or pain, to believe that it's broken, and I'm not interested in palliatives (tight gloves, etc.) but rather getting a sense of how long this will likely continue. Thanks,
Typically, how long should hand swelling continue after shoulder rotator cuff/impingement surgery?
Question posted by highstream on 15 Jan 2014
Last updated on 28 August 2022 by PattydPT
I’m a physical therapist and I had my left rotator cuff repair September 2021 with no other issues. I had the right rotator cuff repaired in July and I am having horrible aching and tightness in both palms. Sometimes pins and needles. I am constantly massaging and stretching them with no relief. I do plan to have my neck checked out in case it’s from there but I’m at a loss for this symptom. I feel better that I’m not the only one but I will work hard to find out why and how to fix it. I hope we all find the solution.
I had rotator cuff and bicep tendon repair on Dec 6th (9 weeks tomorrow). I have had a terrible time with forearm, wrist and hand swelling and pain. My orthopedist finally prescribed me gabapentin this past week after I have called him weekly for the last few weeks complaining. I even complained about it at my post op visit at 5 weeks. They basically said it will take time. My physical therapist has given me exercises, but I have not improved much. He said to just keep moving the joints, don't let them stiffen up. Yes, its painful but work through it. The pain is a little better. I'm not waking up at night in excruciating pain, now that I have the gabapentin. So, I guess that is a win. I just don't have much have control of my thumb. My wrist is very painful and there is visible swelling along with visible swelling in my thumb. I have no fine motor skills. All of my fingertips have a slight numb sensation and my hand is hot to the touch.
I haven't read anywhere else about anyone having a hot hand. I'm always cold, so this is also concerning. I have RA and we are trying to find the right medication for treatment. I think my orthopedist is thinking this is related to that. I don't, based on what I am reading. I agree that no one seems to have a helpful answer on here. I wish I could be helpful, but it is nice to know I am not alone in this.
Glad i found this thread!
I have the similar issues, had shoulder surgery in December, first 2 weeks i had no issues except expected reduced range of motion.
But in the next 2-4 weeks my thumb and index fingers are swollen and very painful - numb with pins and needles. Hard to type, write and wash my hands!!
It really inhibits sleeping and daytime activities too.
My surgeon was not too concerned he said it was likely residual inflammation.
I've started elevating my hand more.
Wrist twirling sounds a good idea in case its fluid not draining.
Im not sure if my physical therapy is helping or aggravating the issue. I assume the former.
Gabapentin seems like a possible thing to try if the doc prescribes though id prefer to avoid it. Any one tried this?
I wonder if red light/IR therapy may also help. Any one tried this?
Did the other folks reporting here all recover eventually??
I had rotator cuff repair for a complete tear in late september, and when they got in there they said my bicep tendon was swollen so they did a tondonesis (cut it so it no longer goes into the shoulder and attach it in the grove or wherever). I was fine until maybe a few weeks after when my hand decided not to close. Now it is late november and still my hand is not right. Morning are bad, then a little better as the day goes on. Glad I found this site, not much info online actually. I hope this tiny bit of info helps. Oh and now they gave me the tight glove. I am not sure it does anything.
I had a ruptured bicep surgery five weeks ago. My hand and fingers are still very swollen and I can close my hand or grip anything. My doctor tells me that it may take two to three months before my hand swelling goes away. I find this to be very unusual?
I'm 7 weeks out from rotator cuff surgery (shoulder "reconstruction", actually - human graft and 7 large anchor screws - to repair a LARGE hole where the tendon should be) and I am curious as to whether anyone on this thread can tell me if/when the pain, swelling and stiffness finally subsided in their hand? My wrist, hand and fingers continue to swell and now hurt so bad I can't sleep at night and my fingers are so swollen they feel like they're going to pop. They began to swell around 2 weeks post-op and are progressively getting worse - despite physical therapy. Can someone who's been through this please let me know when their swelling subsided? And what they found helped reduce the swelling? I noticed no one as far as 4 months out has complained. Does that mean it starts to improve after several months? Trying to be patient, but its hard when your hand is in so much pain you can't sleep.
And its my "right" hand, at that! My shoulder seems to be healing nicely. But I do have neck issues, wondering if that's contributing or if its just fluid from the surgery. Don't know if the exercises are helping or irritating it. Tried elevating it, icing it, soaking in Epsom salts bath, etc. but nothing seems to help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Glad to have found all of your questions and responses as I was needing info on whether I need a doc's appt..I have an 8 wk checkup in 2 wks. I had (dominant) rt shoulder arthroscopic, subacromial decompression, acromioplasty, extensive debridement and repair of 2 tears on bottom side of rotator cuff abt 6 wks ago. as having mild swelling since the surgery and last week, it became as you all are describing. My PT says it's to be expected (gravity). It is so annoying and uncomfortable. Fingers can almost touch palms right now, but it will re-swell when I do my pendulums. Hand has not completely unswollen. Was told to use the ball..squeeze..soak in Epsom salt, and warm water in shower,. exercise sometimes makes it better, other times it exacerbates it. Seems like I'm in for challenges in using and resting that arm..figuring when to do what..Oh also use to have wrist, hand pain yrs ago and wore a brace - for pain similar to carpal tunnel ...
wonder if that contributes as well to my swelling. ..or if this is all par for the course in recovery from this surgery. Feeling relieved after reading your posts.
Perhaps there is 90% chance that your and other people here have the problem in neck. I had the similar problem and many months after shoulder surgery I was having very stiff and slightly swollen hand (it felt like blood was not draining out) and continued shoulder pain, but somewhat better in shoulder than before the surgery, I found the culprit. Mine was settled immediately after a cortisone shut to the neck. In a long run I probably need a neck surgery. OK you may ask, you did not have the hand problem and it happened after shoulder surgery so it must be the shoulder, and all these dumb doctors try to explain it by not having motions, trapped nerve, this or that, which it could be,but 90% of the time it is neck, why does the neck acts up after shoulder surgery? it is foremost the sling you wear after the surgery, it goes over your shoulder around your neck, it put pressure on your posture, other culprit is the compromised positions that you sleep and sit and walk.
You most likely had a dormant spine situation that was in border line and it started acting up due to abuses from the shoulder surgery. That was my finding and you better look at it before barking at the wrong trees, explore this most obvious place. My symptoms were stiff and slightly swollen hand, woke up every night with pain in shoulder and hand and arm, and finally the night after cortisone shut to the neck I had a decent sleep and no swollen or stiff hand anymore. I thought I owed it to this board to post my findings and perhaps end the agony of the pain and not knowing what the problem is for some of you. oh, just that you know, you would need a MRI of the neck to identify the spine level that you need to inject the cortisone, most likely it would be C6C7 level, this is the level that sends that nasty signals to the hand and shoulder at the same time. It is also quite possible that your shoulder pain might have been coming from the neck to begin with, many times the MRI of the shoulder is misguiding, not everything that shows up on MRI of the shoulder causes pain, neck MRI is more reliable indicator of pain, specially when your shoulder MRI shows only small tear or minimal issues, in cases like that, your doctor should ask you to do an MRI of neck before doing a shoulder surgery.
I also had my hand swell after rotator surgery. I am just into my 5th week after surgery. I just got a glove on my hand and exercises to do. It seems like I have tendons that need to be stretched. PT twice a week and time I believe will fix the issue.
The gloves are not palliative, they are treatment. They work like TED hose do. Hand swelling after shoulder surgery is not unusual, and can last for months after surgery. Keeping it elevated will help reduce it.
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