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Shoulder Replacement FAQ's

This following provides a brief introduction to shoulder replacement. It can help you make a list of questions to ask your doctor, but it is not meant to provide comprehensive information.

What is shoulder replacement?

In shoulder replacement surgery, the painful surfaces of the damaged shoulder are resurfaced with artificial shoulder joint. The part that replaces the ball consists of a stem with a rounded metal head. The part that replaces the socket consists of a smooth plastic concave dish that matches the round ball. When both sides of the joint are resurfaced, we call it a total shoulder replacement. However, by choice only the humeral side of the joint (ball) may be resurfaced. This is called a partial shoulder replacement or hemiarthroplasty. And some more advanced options like shoulder resurfacing & reverse shoulder arthroplasty are also offered to indicated patients.

Preparation for shoulder replacement surgery ?

If you and your surgeon decide that total shoulder replacement is right for you, a date will be scheduled for your surgery. Before surgery you will definitely need a pre-op assessment by physician/anesthetist. This will ensure that other health problems you may have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure will be treated before surgery. You may be asked to control the high blood sugar, seek a dentist clearance & urine culture.In addition to all this echocardiography and pulmonary function test might be required in specific patient.

Before & after shoulder replacement surgery ?

On the day of surgery, an intravenous line will be inserted into your arm to administer necessary medication and fluid during surgery. Before surgery your anesthetist may wish to give you a nerve block to keep you pain free after surgery.

A special drain may be inserted into the wound to drain the fluids that naturally develop at the surgical site. The surgery usually takes one to two hours, although this depends on the severity of the arthritis in your shoulder.

A sterile bandage will be placed over the wound, and you will be sent to the recovery room where you will be carefully monitored over two hours. As the anesthesia wears off you will slowly regain consciousness. Your arm will be in a sling. You will also be given pain medication to keep you pain free. When you are fully conscious, you will be taken back to your room.

After Surgery

From the next day of surgery you will be encouraged to move your shoulder & elbow. You may start walking around the hospital room. You will need to say in hospital for two to three days for observation and to ensure that the wound behaves well.

How soon can I return to normal activities after surgery?

Successful joint replacement surgery would relive your pain and stiffness, and would allow you to resume your normal daily activities. There will be some restrictions to be followed as advised by your Doctor. It is in the interest of the shoulder replacement patient to avoid contact sports & activities such as hammering, repetitive heavy lifting, or activities that put excessive strain on your shoulder. It is useful to understand that prosthetic joints are not as strong or durable as a natural, healthy joint. Today total shoulder replacement is becoming a common and predictable procedure. Most patients enjoy relief from pain and improved function, compared to their status before surgery. The rate of wear depends partly on how the shoulder joint is used. Of course you will be encouraged to use your operated arm as normally as possible.

  • Avoiding repetitive heavy lifting.
  • Avoiding "heavy" activities such as hammering.
  • Perform the shoulder exercise at least thrice a week.
  • Avoiding "physical" sports & swimming.
  • Not lifting or pushing heavy objects.

Consult us before beginning any new sport or activity, to discuss what type and intensity of sport or activity is appropriate for you.

After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Since an artificial shoulder joint has been implanted, it is necessary that you treat your shoulder differently. There will be some movements or activities that may have to be modified. Provided the rotator cuff muscle is in good condition then we are able to promise the patient an excellent restoration of movement & function. That is exactly why it is better to have the surgery at an optimal or early time before the rotator cuff muscle degenerates significantly.

At Home

It is very important that you follow your surgeon’s instructions. Any questions should always be discussed with your surgeon before your hospital discharge. Do not use your surgery arm to get up out of bed or from a chair position. Use the opposite arm.
You may be advised not to pull anything to you, such as pulling up trousers and opening doors, for six weeks after surgery.
Your doctor will likely give you a list of exercise to do once you’re home. Typically you will be asked to do these four times a day for a month or so.
Be certain not to exceed the range of motion restrictions given by your physician. Normally patients are not allowed to lift their arm beyond 90 degrees for six weeks after surgery.
Remove loose carpets, avoid standing on a stool & avoid wet floors to avoid falls.

You may experience less pain after surgery, which may make you believe you can do more. Be certain to follow your doctor’s instruction so that you don’t overdo it.
You are advised not to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for the first four to six weeks.
Sling use will vary depending upon the situation. Use of sling at night depends on your confidence to avoid flexing the arm beyond 90 degrees while sleeping.
Sling use will vary depending upon the situation. Use of sling at night depends on your confidence to avoid flexing the arm beyond 90 degrees while sleeping.
Avoid many household chores such as making chapattis, sweeping, mopping and running the vacuum cleaner using your surgery arm.
You may want to place a pillow behind your elbow when seated or lying down to keep the surgery area forward to help decease pain.

Your doctor may recommend that you apply ice to your shoulder to help decrease pain. A two pound bag of frozen peas or other small vegetables works surprising well as an ice pack.
Strictly avoid any hot water bag or massaging the arm for at least two months after surgery.
Avoid wetting the wound till the stitches are off.
If you have fever then calls us up immediately.

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