What to Expect from Shoulder Replacement Surgery

woman working her shoulder in physical therapy

Breaking Down the Different Types of Surgery and Shoulder Replacement Recovery Steps

According to a population survey on shoulder pain, the Archives of Physiotherapy reports that up to 67% of the population will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lifetime. This makes shoulder pain and discomfort one of the most common orthopedic issues among adults in the United States.

Shoulder pain decreases quality of life, inhibits an individual’s ability to perform daily activities, and may even lead to surgery. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, roughly 53,000 people undergo shoulder replacement surgery each year.

Naturally, patients want to know what to expect during the surgery and how long their shoulder replacement recovery timeline will be. Because shoulder replacement surgery encompasses a range of different procedures, we’re breaking down the five most common types so patients have an idea of what to expect.

Total Shoulder Replacement (TSR) Surgery

Also referred to as total shoulder arthroplasty, TSR is a procedure that replaces the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and the socket (glenoid) with prosthetic components to alleviate bone-on-bone friction during movement.

TSR candidates are typically afflicted with a severe form of shoulder arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis) or have lost cartilage through normal wear and tear. Patients with good bone quality and intact rotator cuff muscles generally have better results with TSR surgery.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Reverse shoulder replacement surgery is typically advised for those who have weakness or severe pain in the shoulder due to rotator cuff injury. Candidates for this type of surgery usually have a malfunctioning or torn rotator cuff.

What makes reverse shoulder replacement surgery different from standard TSR is that the ball and socket components are switched. In this case, the prosthetic ball is attached to the socket side. During shoulder replacement recovery, patients learn to lift their arm using their deltoid muscle instead of their rotator cuff.

Partial Shoulder Replacement (Hemiarthroplasty) Surgery

As the name implies, partial shoulder replacement surgery replaces one part of the shoulder joint while leaving the other part intact. During this surgical procedure, a prosthetic metal implant replaces the humerus, while the other half of the shoulder remains as is. This type of surgery is typically reserved for patients who have a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis that has only affected the humerus.

Shoulder Resurfacing Surgery

Resurfacing arthroplasty is a less invasive alternative to TSR surgery. During the procedure, a metal implant cap is placed on the humeral head to promote smooth, fluid movement in the shoulder. The reason that orthopedic surgeons and patients prefer this type of surgery is because it retains as much natural bone as possible and yields shorter recovery times when compared to TSR. Candidates for shoulder resurfacing surgery must have minimal glenoid arthritis and an intact rotator cuff.

Revision Shoulder Replacement Surgery

If a previous shoulder replacement surgery has failed or needs to be revised due to instability, wear, infection, component malfunction, chronic shoulder pain, or other reason, then revision shoulder replacement surgery may be necessary to remedy the issue.

Shoulder Replacement Recovery Timeline

The recovery process after shoulder replacement surgery won’t be universal for everyone; however, there are some specific benchmarks to expect.

  1. After surgery, you will be in the hospital for at least two or three days. The medical team will help with your pain management, inflammation, and swelling.
  2. Once discharged from the hospital, your arm will be in a sling for four to six weeks. Your physician will provide you with detailed instructions via your discharge paperwork on how to care for your shoulder and the incisions that were made.
  3. Depending on the strength in your shoulder and state of recovery, you will eventually start a physical therapy regimen to regain range of motion and strengthen the muscles and soft tissue of the joint. A physical therapist will work with you during in-person sessions and prescribe specific exercises for you to do at home.
  4. You will have regular follow-up appointments with your physician to check the status of your shoulder. They will be frequent during the first three months and become less frequent as your shoulder heals and continues to improve.

How to Speak with an Orthopedic Doctor About Shoulder Replacement Surgery

If you are experiencing chronic pain, lack of mobility, or are affected by a degenerative disease, then you may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery. Find out by scheduling an appointment for an examination with one of our orthopedic doctors at Mid-America Orthopedics.

After collecting your medical history and performing a thorough examination, your orthopedic doctor will make a diagnosis. Based on the severity of your shoulder condition, they will either put you on a treatment plan intended to reduce your symptoms or refer you internally to one of our experienced in-house orthopedic surgeons.

For inquiries about shoulder pain or other orthopedic issues, call (316) 630-9300, or email us using the contact form on our website. For your convenience, we generally can schedule same-day or next-day appointments.