Frequently Asked Questions
You may have some questions about your shoulder condition, investigation and/or treatment. Hopefully you will find an answer in the FAQs below, if you do not find an answer on this page or if you want to know more, please feel free to get in touch. You can reach me through various methods and addresses – have a look on the Contact Me page.
What is your correspondence address?
Mr Neill S Thompson MD FRCS (Tr&Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic and Shoulder Surgeon
Castle Farm House
51 Ravara Road
Ballygowan BT23 6NN
How can I contact you?
See the Contact Me page of the website
Where do you consult?
Malone Medical Chambers, 142 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5LH.
The Ulster Independent Clinic 245 Stranmillis Road Belfast BT9.
What are your consultation and injection fees?
I charge within the limits of all medical insurance groups including BUPA, Norwich Union, AXA/PPP, WPA and Standard Life. For self funding patients please contact my secretary Mrs Amy Walsh who will be able to provide you with this information.
Can I pay on the day of consultation?
Yes, for self funding patients you may pay by cheque with the receptionist or use the credit card facility at Malone Medical Chambers, this may also be used if you phone Malone Medical Chambers and speak to Liz or Kelly.
We also accept payment by card, call my secretary on 028 97521143.
Are steroid injections very painful?
No, contrary to popular belief in the vast majority of cases little or no pain is experienced with the injection as a very fine needle is used.
Will steroid injections weaken the tendons of my shoulder?
Yes, steroid injection will weaken the tendon but only if it is injected into the tendon itself, my shoulder injections go either into the shoulder joint itself or the bursa (fluid filled sac) which surrounds the tendons and bathes them.
If I have a shoulder steroid injection do I have to wear a sling afterwards?
No, I generally advise patients to rest as much as possible for 48 hours after injection as excessive arm movement tends to pump the steroid away from where it has been injected. After the initial 48 hour period lifting the arm overhead should also be avoided as much as possible.
Can I drive after my steroid injection?
Yes, most people are able to drive home after injection, however if your shoulder is very painful to start with or you have a fear of needles it might be best to bring a driver along with you.
Are there any side effects to steroid injections?
Yes there are a number of potential side effects:
- In a relatively large proportion of individuals shoulder pain will be made worse for approximately 48 hours after injection, additional analgesia may be required for this time period.
- Occasionally transient facial flushing may be experienced, this is not an allergic reaction to the steroid.
- Ladies who may be approaching the menopause menstrual irregularity may be noticed following injection
Are there any potential complications of steroid injections?
Yes, the most serious potential complication of a steroid injection into a joint is an infection of the joint which is a serious condition that would require hospitalisation, drainage and washout of the joint and a course of intravenous antibiotics. If a joint becomes infected the joint lining cartilage may die and the surfaces can rapidly become arthritic. I perform a large number of shoulder steroid injections each week and to date this complication has not been part of my practice.
When can I go back to work after surgery?
After shoulder arthroscopic procedures such as rotator cuff repair or shoulder decompression or stabilisation a return to sedentary work at approximately 1-2 weeks should be expected. By that stage whilst you may be in a sling a keyboard could be used.
Patients who have heavier manual jobs will usually return to full activity within approximately 3-6 months from surgery.
Will I be able to use a computer or write after surgery?
Yes, usually within 1-2 weeks of surgery.
Do I have to wear a sling after surgery and if so for how long?
In the case of shoulder subacromial decompression or clavicle (collar bone) plating a sling is worn for 5-7 days until your pain starts to settle. In the case of a rotator cuff repair or a shoulder stabilisation a sling must be worn during the day and at night for 6 weeks following surgery
What does the sling look like?
The sling worn following a rotator cuff repair has a pillow attached to it which supports the arm from the side of the body. The other slings used are conventional slings which hold your arm across the body.
Do I wear the sling while sleeping?
Yes, in the case of rotator cuff repair and shoulder stabilisation the sling must be worn in bed at night for 6 weeks. In the case of subacromial decompression or clavicle plating the sling may be dispensed with at night once your acute pain starts to settle.
Can I wear my normal clothes while I am wearing a sling?
Yes, you should usually be able to wear normal clothes but you may, particularly in the case of rotator cuff repairs, require someone else to assist you with dressing for the first six weeks after surgery.
How long will the operation last?
The majority of shoulder operations take approximately one hour to perform under a general anaesthetic.
Will I be very sore after surgery?
In the vast majority of cases patients experience discomfort as opposed to severe pain following shoulder surgery as a large volume of local anaesthetic is used within the shoulder and as a nerve block at the start and finish of the procedure. A shoulder ice pack is provided for post operative use which many patients find very helpful. Following surgery at the time of discharge you will be provided with a supply of painkillers to take home.
Air Travel after Surgery
How soon can I fly after surgery?
Standard national guidelines suggest that if you undergo surgery that lasts approximately 1 hour that you should not undertake flights lasting longer than 2 – 3 hours within 3 month of your operation. The reason for this is because your risk of developing a clot in the leg is significantly increased during that time period. If you develop a large clot in your leg this can detach and have potentially fatal consequences.