You may be able discuss anaesthesia and choices of post-op pain relief with your anaesthetist.
The anaesthetist is responsible for pre-medication before the surgery, your anaesthesia and wellbeing during surgery, any blood transfusions you may need, and your post-operative pain relief.
For total shoulder replacement surgery, a combination of general anaesthesia and brachial block is normally used.
Ask your surgeon if you can meet with the anaesthetist before the day of the procedure. This way you won’t be hurried or stressed, and can be involved in the planning.
With general anaesthetic you’ll be unconscious for your procedure and a tube will be inserted into your throat to help you breathe. You may wake up with a sore throat from the tube. General anaesthetics may cause post-operative nausea and vomiting. A general anaesthetic may be combined with a local anaesthetic into your wound to provide pain relief after your surgery.
If you’re overweight or obese, there are increased risks associated with general anaesthesia.
A brachial block is an injection of local anaesthetic given at the time of your surgery for post-operative pain relief. If you have a brachial block, your arm can feel numb and paralysed for up to 12 hours or more after your surgery.
You may be offered medication to prevent nausea, reduce stomach acid or help you relax. If you think you’ll be feeling anxious before surgery, ask if you can have something to relax you.
Pain relief after surgery
After surgery you’ll be given pain relief prescribed by your anaesthetist. By enabling you to move and breathe without too much discomfort, good pain relief can help reduce your risk of complications.
Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is often used in the first day or so. This comprises an opioid drug delivered through a cannula into a vein. You can control the amount of pain relief you receive by pressing a button.
Injections of pain relieving medication can be delivered by IV cannula or into a muscle.
Tablets or liquids can be given at regular times, or when pain starts to bother you.
Print this page to take when you meet with your surgeon and anaesthetist, so you can make sure all your questions are answered.