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A shoulder replacement can help to relieve pain and improve shoulder mobility.

What is shoulder replacement surgery like?

Shoulder replacement surgery replaces the worn and damaged parts of your shoulder joint. A shoulder replacement can help to relieve pain and improve shoulder mobility. If other more conservative treatment options have not provided relief from shoulder pain, your doctor may recommend this procedure. The three most common types of shoulder replacement surgery are total shoulder replacement surgery, partial shoulder replacement surgery, and reverse shoulder replacement surgery. Surgery for shoulder replacements usually require a hospital stay that lasts between twenty-four and forty-eight hours, though the surgery itself only takes a few hours.

What is recovery from shoulder replacement surgery like?

When you are released from the hospital or surgery center, your arm will be in a sling and you may require assistance to help you with certain daily tasks. Over the next few weeks, you will regain your energy and some mobility. At the incision, your shoulder may have a bandage, stitches, staples, or tissue glue. Follow your doctor’s instructions when removing and replacing any bandages and caring for the incision. Staples will be removed after ten to twenty-one days at a follow-up appointment, and stitches will be removed at ten to fourteen days. The shoulder area may be swollen and painful for several months after surgery while it heals. You may be prescribed medication for the pain and can also ice the area for ten to twenty minutes at a time. You are typically allowed to shower starting twenty-four to forty-eight hours after surgery.

You will also work with a physical therapist after surgery who can recommend exercises for you to do at home and will work with you at appointments to improve your mobility. Make sure to speak with your doctor about how long you will need to continue with physical therapy. It can take weeks before you can lift objects that are heavier than a glass of water. You may be able to return to work between two to three weeks after surgery. You will have to wear a sling at night, and your arm should stay next to or in front of your body during sleep and throughout the rest of the day. It is strongly advised that you do not lift anything with the affected arm for six weeks after surgery. Ask your doctor when it will be safe for you to drive or resume other activities such as sports.

Make sure to attend all of your follow up appointments after shoulder replacement surgery as it can greatly affect the outcome of your healing. Follow up appointments will involve assessments of your shoulders mobility and healing and may also include x-rays. You should be able to return to an active lifestyle after shoulder replacement surgery with less pain and better mobility.

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