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How I Avoided the Dreaded Shoulder Pain How I Avoided the Dreaded Shoulder Pain

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Unread 08-25-2017, 08:45 AM
How I Avoided the Dreaded Shoulder Pain

I managed to avoid the horrible post-op shoulder pain, so I thought I would share. First, understand that the shoulder pain is caused by leftover CO2 gas in your abdomen that floats up to your diaphragm and irritates your phrenic nerve, which runs along your lungs and up through your shoulders to your upper spine. I did a lot of research ahead of time and believe I avoided the pain due to two things, one that I did on purpose and one that I did inadvertently: 1) The thing I did on purpose was to NOT be upright for any more than 5 mins at a time. Being upright allows the gas to float up to your diaphragm due to gravity. I did walk around for 5 mins each time I had to take my meds (since the doc tells you not to just lie in bed for 3 days), but after that I would immediately lie back down, making sure my diaphragm was even with my belly button. At one point I even put some pillows under my hips to get my belly a little above my diaphragm. 2) The first night, I had a pain in my lower back and could not comfortably sleep on my back, so I slept on my left side. This caused the gas to float up into my right side and settle in my right chest up under my ribs, where it seemed to stay. I believe this helped prevent it from getting to my diaphragm. It was painful to take a full breath and to lie down on my back, but it was only a 5 out of 10 instead of a 10 out of 10 as several friends had described the shoulder pain to me. It's my hypothesis that how you orient yourself in the first 12-24 hours after surgery determines where that gas will go and stay for those first few days. Anyway, it worked for me, so I hope it helps some of you out there.
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