Shoulder Replacement

Artificial shoulder replacement is considered if all other alternatives are unsuccessful. The decision to replace the shoulder is a joint decision between you and your physician.

There are approximately 40,000 shoulder replacements performed annually in the United States.

In addition to a complete medical history, your physician may perform a complete physical examination, including x-rays, to ensure you are in good health before undergoing surgery. In addition, you may also meet with a physical therapist to discuss rehabilitation after the surgery and undergo blood tests (or other tests).

How is the shoulder replaced with an artificial shoulder?

A shoulder prosthesis is made up of metal and plastic. There are two types – a cemented prosthesis and an uncemented prosthesis. The cemented type is attached to the bone with a type of epoxy.

The uncemented prosthesis is held in place by a tight press fit, allowing the bone to grow into the mesh surface and attaching naturally to the prosthesis. Your surgeon will determine the most appropriate prosthesis for you.

The prosthesis (artificial shoulder) is made of two components:

  • humeral component (to replace the ball on top of the upper arm bone or humerus)
  • glenoid component ( to replace the socket of the shoulder that is actually part of the scapula) While undergoing surgery, the patient may be sedated under general anesthesia.

Recovery from Surgery

While in the hospital, the shoulder will be in a shoulder splint or immobilizer to protect and position the shoulder. However, patients may begin to use their hand and wrist for simple activities.

The usual length of stay is one to two days in the hospital with discharge to home.

Activity and pain management details will be discussed prior to discharge.

Support Sling

Your doctor will provide you a sling that should be worn every night for at least the first month after surgery, or as your surgeon directs. 

Returning to Work

Depending on the career or type of work you do, your doctor will determine the appropriate time for you to return to work. If your job requires heavy lifting or climbing, there may be a delay in returning.

Strengthening Exercises

Within the first few weeks, you will begin a modified exercise program. Four to six weeks after surgery, therapy will begin for strengthening. It may take some time before you feel you are returning to normal function. Do not get discouraged.