When deciding whether to go forward with shoulder replacement surgery, there are facts and there are feelings. Both are equally important.
By gathering facts, you’ll get a better feel for whether shoulder replacement surgery will provide more pain relief and mobility than trying to manage osteoarthritis with medicine, physical therapy or other treatments. But once you have the facts, it’s your personal feelings – your comfort level with surgery, how much pain you’re feeling, your desired lifestyle and your satisfaction with (or attitude toward) other treatment options – that will ultimately determine whether shoulder replacement surgery is the best option for you.
Here you’ll learn about shoulder replacement surgery, how it works and what to expect in terms of recovery. We’ll also cover non-surgical treatment options that may be available to you.
What is a shoulder replacement surgery?
The shoulder is a large ball and socket joint made up of bones, tendons, muscles and ligaments which hold the shoulder in place. Smooth cartilage protects the shoulder bones, allowing them to glide easily. During shoulder replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed or resurfaced and replaced with artificial components (prostheses). Your surgeon can discuss your treatment options and help you decide which is best for you.
Recovering from shoulder replacement surgery: what to expect
Most patients are able to return home within two to three days following surgery. You’ll be asked to wear a removable sling for four to six weeks and you’ll begin physical therapy the day after your surgery. The initial therapy will involve moving your fingers, wrist and elbow. Within a short period of time, you’ll begin motion exercises for your shoulder. Therapy will continue for several weeks.
As long as your job doesn’t require certain arm movements, you may be able to return to work within two to three weeks of surgery however you likely won’t be able to drive for four to six weeks. Most patients regain their motion in three to six months. Your physical therapist, in consultation with your surgeon, can help you determine when it’s safe to resume specific daily and recreational activities.
How long does it take to perform a shoulder replacement surgery?
Shoulder replacement surgery usually takes about two to three hours to perform. Your surgeon will let you know if there are certain factors that may cause your procedure to take longer.
Reverse shoulder replacement surgery
Normally, the ball of your shoulder is part of your upper arm bone and the socket resides in your shoulder blade. During a reverse shoulder replacement, this setup is reversed. The surgeon attaches an artificial ball to the shoulder blade and attaches an artificial socket to the arm bone.
We perform reverse shoulder replacements when a patient’s ligaments aren’t healthy and they need the help of the muscle to keep the shoulder joint in place.
What are my alternatives to shoulder replacement surgery?
Sometimes shoulder replacement surgery isn’t the best option for treating certain shoulder injuries, shoulder pain or problems with mobility. In some cases, a doctor might recommend:
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Other surgeries
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
What makes TRIA a top destination for shoulder replacement surgery?
You won’t be pushed toward surgery. You’ll get an accurate diagnosis and expert answers to help you decide what’s best for you. In many cases, we recommend treatment options other than surgery.
Hospital, hotel or at home – choose your recovery option. Most patients choose to go straight home after surgery if they meet the criteria and their insurance covers it. Others opt for the Hotel Recovery Program and receive care in an environment that’s quieter and more comforting than a traditional hospital room. There’s no out-of-pocket cost with hotel recovery and it’s less expensive than a hospital stay.
Confidence. Choose from surgeons considered among the best not just in Minnesota, but the entire Midwest.
Ready to explore your options? We’re here to answer all of your questions.
Transform shoulder pain from everyday reality to distant memory
Looking for a second opinion?
Whether you’re seeking a second opinion for shoulder replacement surgery elsewhere or you’d like us to provide one, we want to make sure you have all the answers and information you need to make the best decision for you. In many cases, insurance will cover the second opinion. Check with your provider to be sure.