Healing from Shoulder Replacement Surgery: What to Expect

You may not realize just how much you rely on your shoulders until you need shoulder replacement surgery. From expressing yourself through shrugs to crossing your arms and lifting just about anything, your shoulders play important roles in everyday function.

Shoulder replacement surgery can go a long way toward minimizing debilitating pain from a traumatic injury or condition, such as arthritis, avascular necrosis, or rotator cuff arthropathy. And once you’ve had the procedure, a strong recovery is important.

Our expert team at Northland Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri, specializes in shoulder replacement surgery. We recognize that choosing to have this procedure is significant, so we take time to explain the entire process in order for you to make an informed decision that supports your goals and needs.

Read on to learn more about shoulder replacement surgery and what to expect during the healing process afterward. 

What happens during shoulder replacement surgery

During shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon removes the damaged parts of your shoulder then replaces them with prosthesis, or artificial equivalents. Depending on the severity of your condition, they may remove just the head of the humerus bone, the ball of the joint, or the humerus bone and the glenoid, or socket.

Shoulder replacement surgery usually takes about two hours, depending on the intensity, during which time you’ll be under general anesthesia. While you won’t feel anything during the procedure, you will need to be monitored and cared for in the hospital for 1-3 days.

What happens after shoulder replacement surgery

While you’re still in the hospital, your surgery team will go over instructions for your recovery plan. That plan will include physical therapy, which will start shortly after your surgery. You’ll also be instructed on exercises to do at home, which will help enhance your flexibility and strength as you heal.

You may need help with daily tasks for 2-4 weeks while your arm is held still in a sling. During that time, you’ll likely be prohibited from driving as well. In addition, you’ll want to avoid extreme movements with your shoulder for a good 6 weeks or so after your surgery. 

Pain management is an important part of your recovery process, too. You may be prescribed medications to help manage the pain temporarily, and encouraged to switch to over-the-counter pain medications as you’re able. Physical therapy will gradually help reduce the pain you experience as well.

To learn more about shoulder replacement recovery or get the treatment you need, call Northland Orthopedic & Sports Medicine or request an appointment on our website.

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