Shoulder Frequently Asked Questions
Also called arthroplasty, shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure in which the damaged or diseased joint is removed and replaced by an artificial shoulder implant (prosthesis) that is designed move like a normal, healthy joint.
This is a very personal decision that only you can make, with the help of an orthopaedic surgeon’s evaluation of your pain and its effect on your daily life.
When other treatment options no longer provide relief, joint replacement may be recommended — not only to relieve pain but also to prevent the disability it can cause. For example, experiencing joint pain day after day without relief can lead to “staying off” the joint — which often weakens the muscles around it so it becomes even more difficult to move. Your orthopaedic surgeon will tell you whether you might benefit from joint replacement and explain the reasons why it may, or may not, be right for you at this time.
- The humeral component (metal) is implanted in the humerus, or upper arm bone.
- The humeral head component (metal) replaces the humeral head at the top of the humerus.
- The glenoid component (plastic) replaces the surface of the glenoid socket, or shoulder socket.
Following joint replacement surgery, hospital stays vary depending on insurance coverage and individual medical status — a total of four days (including the day of the surgery) is typical. The surgery may take from two to three hours, and you’ll spend about the same amount of time in the recovery room.
On the first day after your surgery, you may be able to get out of bed and begin physical and occupational therapy, typically several brief sessions a day. Usually a case manager is assigned to work with you as you move through your rehabilitation routines. When you’re ready for discharge, the decision will be made concerning whether you can best continue to recover at home or in another facility where you may receive specialized rehabilitative help. If you do go to another facility, the goal will be to return you to your home, able to move about with a safe level of independence, within three to five days.*
You shouldn’t be surprised if you feel a little shaky and uncertain for the first day or two after you’re discharged. But soon you will likely get a routine going and gain confidence in your new joint — the start of a new life with less pain. (As with any surgery, you’ll probably take pain medication for a few days while you are healing.) You’ll also be in touch with your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon, as well as your case manager, so take advantage of opportunities to ask questions or discuss concerns as well as to report on your progress*
* Individuals results vary.
This is a decision that only you and your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon can make. However, there are some general guidelines that your doctor may give you:
- You should have no restrictions on leaving your home as long as your safety and comfort are assured.
- Don’t tire yourself out — a good balance of exercise, rest, and relaxation is best for helping your body heal and gain strength.
When to resume driving a car, going to work, and/or participating in sports activities are all highly individualized decisions. Be sure to follow your doctor’s or orthopaedic surgeon’s advice and recommendations.
When fully recovered, most people with artificial shoulders can return to work and normal daily activities without any problems. Keep in mind, however, that certain activities could affect how long your artificial shoulder will last and how well it will perform. A good rule of thumb is that your physical activities should not cause pain, including pain felt later. You should also not jar your joint or push it to its most extreme range of motion. If, for example, you are considering doing any of the following activities, you should discuss them first with your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon:
- Any activity involving lifting or pushing heavy objects
- Any activity that places excessive stress on your shoulder joint
- Hammering and other forceful arm/shoulder movements
- Boxing and other arm/shoulder impact sports