Shoulder replacement is also called shoulder arthroplasty. This surgical procedure removes and replaces your shoulder joint with an artificial joint. Shoulder replacement may be necessary for people with a massive long-standing rotator cuff tear, a severe fracture, or severe arthritis. Shoulder replacement may become necessary if simple daily activities become increasingly difficult or if you have pain even when you rest.

Before Surgery

At Memorial Health Bone & Joint, we want you to be informed and prepared for your surgery. You will be given a handbook detailing appointments, pre-surgical testing, and preparations you should make at home.

The Surgical Process

You will receive anesthesia to ensure that you do not feel anything. Your surgeon will make an incision along the front of your shoulder. You will have either a total shoulder joint replacement or a reverse total shoulder replacement.

During total shoulder joint replacement, your surgeon removes the damaged shoulder joint and replaces it with a metal and plastic prosthesis. The prosthesis may be cemented or non-cemented. A cemented prosthesis is attached to the bone with a type of surgical cement. A non-cemented prosthesis attaches to the bone with a fine mesh of holes on the surface. The bone then grows into the mesh and attaches naturally to the prosthesis.

In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the socket and metal ball are reversed. This procedure attaches the metal ball to the shoulder bone and the plastic socket is attached to the upper arm bone. The reversing of the component allows the use of the deltoid muscle to lift the arm instead of the torn rotator cuff.

The cut is closed with stitches or staples.

After Surgery

You will be taken to a recovery room where you will stay until you are fully awake. Caregivers will watch you closely to ensure you do not have any complications. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is ok. You will be asked to use a device called an incentive spirometer to help improve your lung function. When caregivers see that you are awake, you will be taken to your hospital room. You will have a bandage on your shoulder to keep the area clean and help prevent infection. A caregiver will change the bandage and check your shoulder.

You will receive pain medication as needed and will begin physical therapy.

Discharge and Follow Up

The average hospital stay after joint replacement surgery is two days. You will be asked to follow up with your surgeon within 10 to 14 days. Because every person’s body is different, you may require a longer hospital stay. You will be given specific guidelines to follow at home.

Physical and occupational therapy may continue for several weeks. You will wear an arm sling during the day for several weeks after surgery. You may be instructed to wear the sling at night for four to six weeks.

Recovery and Moving On

Recovery after joint replacement surgery is a steady but gradual process. Keep in mind that healing and recovery times vary with each person. Your physician and therapist can help you decide when you’re ready to begin new tasks.