Total Shoulder Replacement

What is it, and how is it performed?

Don’t let severe shoulder pain and stiffness prevent you from doing the things you love. Read this article to learn more about how total shoulder replacement surgery can help, how it’s performed, and whether or not it’s the right shoulder surgery for you.

Call OrthoNeuro today or request an appointment online for expert orthopedic treatments. We have multiple locations throughout Columbus, Ohio.

What is Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Total shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure that removes osteoarthritic bone and replaces it with metal and plastic components.

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. Therefore, the components mimic the same anatomy and function of a healthy shoulder so that you can return to activities without the pain caused by shoulder arthritis.

There are a few different types of shoulder replacement surgeries. Partial shoulder replacement, total shoulder replacement, and reverse shoulder replacement.

Reverse total shoulder replacement differs from total shoulder replacement in that the ball and socket components are reversed. The ball is attached to the shoulder blade and the socket is attached to the upper arm bone. Reverse shoulder replacement is sometimes recommended when there is a long-standing rotator cuff tear or a previous shoulder replacement that was unsuccessful.

Total shoulder replacement is very effective at restoring range of motion and improving quality of life. The procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis, although an overnight hospital stay is usually necessary.

The board-certified orthopedic surgeons at OrthoNeuro have performed thousands of total shoulder replacements and are experts in this procedure.

A total shoulder replacement may be recommended to treat severe osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment.

Is Shoulder Joint Replacement for You?

Deciding whether to go ahead with shoulder replacement surgery is something you, your family, your family doctor, and your orthopedic surgeon should all talk about together.

Your doctor might suggest shoulder replacement surgery for a few reasons. Typically, it’s considered when:

  • Your shoulder hurts a lot, making everyday tasks like reaching for things, getting dressed, or even basic self-care activities painful.
  • The pain doesn’t let up, even when you’re resting, and it’s bad enough to keep you awake at night.
  • Your shoulder has lost a lot of its range of motion and strength, making it hard to do what you love.
  • Other treatments, like anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone shots, or physical therapy, haven’t made a significant difference in your condition.

Preparing for Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Before heading to the hospital for surgery, choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and consider wearing a button-front shirt. Post-surgery, you’ll be in a sling with limited arm mobility.

Your surgery will likely involve a same-day admission to the hospital. Once you’re admitted, you’ll be escorted to the preoperative preparation area, where you’ll meet with an anesthesiologist.

In this meeting, you, your anesthesiologist, and your surgeon will discuss the anesthesia approach. You might choose a general anesthetic (where you’re completely asleep throughout the operation), a regional anesthetic (where you may remain awake but without sensation in the surgical area), or a combination of both, depending on your specific needs.

How is a Total Shoulder Replacement Performed?

At OrthoNeuro, a total shoulder replacement can be performed as an outpatient or inpatient procedure based on what you and your surgeon feel is best for you.

During a total shoulder replacement procedure:

  1. Incision: An incision is made on the front of the shoulder. Modern surgical techniques and new total shoulder components allow surgeons to make much smaller incisions.
  2. Bone removal: Osteoarthritic bone is removed and prepared for implants.
  3. Implants: Metal and plastic implants are perfectly positioned and then cemented in place.
  4. Closure: The incision is carefully closed and sterilely dressed.

Recovery After Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

After leaving the hospital, you’ll have your arm in a sling. This sling is essential for supporting and safeguarding your shoulder during the first 2 to 6 weeks following your surgery. The duration depends on how complicated the surgery was and your surgeon’s recommendation.

Until your wound is fully sealed and dried, avoid soaking it in water. You can keep it covered with a bandage to prevent irritation from your clothing.

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery as it helps improve stability in the shoulder as well as increase the range of motion. Continuing the exercises at home is crucial, especially in the initial weeks after surgery. Most people can resume tasks like eating, dressing, and grooming within 2 weeks after surgery.

Do’s and Don’ts During Recovery:

During recovery, you will need to follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions closely. Here’s a list of things to do and avoid when you return home:

  • Don’t use your arm to push yourself up in bed or from a chair because it requires strong muscle contractions.
  • Do stick to the prescribed home exercise program. You may need to do these exercises 2 to 3 times a day for a month or more.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. If you had severe shoulder pain before the surgery, being pain-free might tempt you to do more than recommended. Early overuse can lead to limited motion.
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than a glass of water for the first 2 to 4 weeks post-surgery.
  • Do seek assistance. Your physician can suggest an agency or facility for support if you lack it at home.
  • Don’t engage in contact sports or heavy lifting after your shoulder replacement.
  • Do avoid extreme arm positions, like reaching straight out to the side or behind your body, for the first 6 weeks after surgery.

Shoulder joint replacement surgery has improved the quality of life for countless patients. It brings less pain, better motion and strength, and enhanced function.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist Today!

If you have been considering a total shoulder replacement, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified shoulder specialists at one of our locations throughout Greater Columbus, OH.

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. Best of all, most patients can be seen within 24 hours of making an appointment. Contact us today!

Medically reviewed by B. Rodney Comisar, MD, FAAOS

Shoulder Specialists

“8 weeks after bad rotator cuff surgery and I am doing well thank you for the great service“