Frequently asked shoulder surgery questions
Am I asleep for the surgery?
Yes, your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia. Often times, anesthesia will discuss the possibility of an interscalene block to assist with postoperative pain.
What testing will I need prior to surgery?
Our surgery scheduler will contact you regarding appointments that need to be completed prior to surgery. These must be done within 30 days of your surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, your age and health, you may need clearance from primary care physician, and may need testing such as lab work, and EKG.
What is arthroscopic surgery?
A minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a small endoscope (camera) is inserted into the shoulder to perform surgical repair of damaged tissue. This often times is done through 3 or 4 portals (small incisions in the skin).
Will my surgery be open or arthroscopic?
Dr. Van Thiel is fellowship trained in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery, therefore, the majority of shoulder surgery is performed arthroscopically. In rare instances he may need to open, especially in the cases of shoulder replacements.
I had an MRI ordered, what can I expect?
If Dr. Van Thiel or Carly ordered an MRI of your shoulder, once the MRI is completed we will see you back in the office which generally takes 7-10 days and review the results of your MRI and discuss the appropriate course of action at that time.
If my appointment is scheduled with Dr. Van Thiel will I see him on my first visit?
Upon your visit here you will be seen by Dr. Van Thiel and or his Physician Assistant Carly Jackson. Dr. Van Thiel and Carly work closely together so if you are not seen by Dr. Van Thiel on your first visit, you can be sure that he is aware and actively involved in your care
My MRI showed a tear and I’m having surgery, who do I contact?
If you are to schedule surgery, please call 815-381-7365 and speak to Jamie to select a surgery date and complete the necessary preoperative testing.
Who performs the surgery?
Dr. Van Thiel performs the surgery with the assistance of his Physician Assistant Carly Jackson.
How long will the surgery take?
All surgeries vary with regards to the extent of damage. Most arthroscopic shoulder surgeries can be performed in a period of 1-3 hours.
Will I be required to wear a sling after surgery?
If you are in need of a soft tissue repair (rotator cuff or labrum) you will wear a sling, day and night, for a period of 4-6 weeks after surgery. If no repair is required you are to wear the sling for comfort and may be discontinued as tolerated.
Can I take my arm out of the sling?
Unless directed by your physician, you may take your arm out of the sling to move your elbow, wrist and hand while keeping your arm at your side. You may also remove sling to shower when instructed by physician.
When can I shower?
You will be permitted to remove the surgical dressing 2-3 days after the surgery unless advised otherwise by your physician. At this stage you may remove your arm from the sling, keeping your arm at your side to shower.
Will I need pain meds after surgery?
You will be issued a prescription for pain medication after the surgery and is to be used on an as needed basis. You are able to take over the counter anti-inflammatories in place of the narcotic if this works for your pain. We advise that you do not take narcotics or anti-inflammatories prior to your surgery.
Will I need to go to therapy after surgery?
Once you are seen in the office after surgery we will issue you a prescription for physical therapy. Therapy is done 2-3 times per week and lasts for approximately 3-4 months.
Where will I do my therapy?
Therapy can be done anywhere that is convenient for you. We have a list of physical therapy offices that we routinely use and we can assist you with selecting one that is right for you.
When can I return to work?
Generally patients are able to return to desk work within the first few weeks after surgery although this depends on how the patient is feeling. If your work is labor intensive, you may be off for 3-5 months.
When can I drive after surgery?
Patients should not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking narcotics. Normally patients are allowed to drive at 4 weeks post-op.
How much of my surgery will be covered by my insurance?
Patient’s insurance benefits are verified at OrthoIllinois by our verification of benefits department prior to any procedure. However, this verification of benefits does not identify the financial portion for which the patient will be held responsible. It is the responsibility of each patient to contact their insurance carrier for a more complete understanding of their policy coverage.
I received an injection in my shoulder, what can I expect?
If you received an injection on your visit, then it is likely that your condition is not requiring surgery. In cases like these we utilize cortisone and physical therapy to treat your shoulder by non-operative means. Physical therapy is done for a period of 6 weeks at which time you will be re-evaluated. Most patients improve with conservative treatment. Often time cortisone can take 1-2 weeks to take effect. We encourage the use of ice during this period of time.
If I have questions whom do I contact in Dr. Van Thiel’s office?
Our team is here to assist you and make your surgical experience a pleasant one. Jamie is part of our staff and is here to aid with seeing patients in clinic and scheduling of surgery. Nicole will help you to find an office appointment that works with your schedule. If you receive a voice mail please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.