Shoulder Frequently Asked Questions

What is shoulder replacement?

Also known as shoulder arthroplasy, shoulder replacement is a surgery involving the removal of a damaged or diseased joint and the replacement of an artificial implant called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to act as a normal and healthy joint would.

At what point should I consider having joint replacement?

This decision is personal and should be consulted with an orthopedic surgeon. Based on an evaluation of your pain and symptoms, you and your doctor can decide what the best form of treatment is; conventional or surgical

 What are some reasons people need joint replacement?

When other treatments are unable to provide relief, a joint replacement surgery is considered. This decision is made to not only relieve pain but also prevent any further damage or disability.

What happens during a shoulder replacement surgery?

A surgeon removes any damaged or diseased parts of the joint and replaces them with the artificial joint (prosthesis). The prosthesis can be made up of two or three parts, depending on the kind of surgery:

  • The humeral component (metal)- implanted in the upper arm bone (humerus)
  • The humeral head component (metal)- implanted at the tip of the humerus
  • The glenoid component (plastic)- implanted at the surface of the shoulder socket, or glenoid socket

What do I need to do before surgery if I decide to have joint replacement?

A doctor will administer routine blood tests, urinalysis, physical examination, and an electrocardiogram (EKG) if you are over 50. You may also be advised to preoperatively donate blood or have designated donor (either a family member or relative) do so. Your doctor may recommend taking an iron supplement before the surgery and stop any medication you are currently on. You will probably be told to not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the surgery.

What postoperative recovery will happen in the hospital?

Your hospital stay depends on insurance coverage and your medical status. The typical hospital stay after joint replacement is four days. The surgery itself takes around two or three hours and you will spend the same amount of time in the recovery room.

A case manage may be assigned to you to help you through rehabilitation routines. Your doctor will decide if you can recover at home or need to be transferred to another facility where you will receive special rehabilitation assistance. The goal will be to return you to your home as quickly as possible.

What can I expect after discharge?

You will probably feel a little shaky and unstable for the first couple of days. Usually, you will get into a routine and gain strength in your new joint. Pain medication can help with the healing process. Stay in touch with your orthopedic surgeon and doctor. Report any changes to your health if you feel there is something wrong.

When will my normal routine kick in?

You and your orthopedic surgeon can decide when you can return to work and driving depending on your improvements. Don’t tire yourself out and keep yourself as comfortable as possible. Follow your doctor’s and orthopedic surgeon’s instructions and advice.

What activities should I avoid after shoulder replacement surgery?

Do not engage in physical activities that will likely cause you pain. Try not to push your joint to the most extreme range of motion. Try to avoid:

  • Activities involving heavy lifting or pushing
  • Activities involving excessive stress on your shoulder
  • Hammering
  • Boxing/ high impact sports