What Can I Expect After a Shoulder Replacement?

Man with shoulder pain
Joint replacement is a very involved process. It requires preparation for surgery, the procedure itself, and careful recovery and maintenance to prevent complications. Knowing how to care for a replaced joint is vital to avoid future issues and ensure a smooth, gradual transition to a life more in line with the activity and mobility once enjoyed before surgery.
Hospital Stay
As with most surgeries following the shoulder replacement, patients will stay in the hospital overnight. This stay is for initial observation in case of any complications, and pain medication is administered if needed.
Heading Home
At your pre-operative appointment, you should receive a shoulder immobilizer. When you go for surgery, you will take this with you to be properly placed on your surgical arm. You will be in the immobilizer for six weeks to ensure proper healing.
With one arm in a sling, some people may need assistance with daily activities for the first couple of weeks following surgery. Having a support system and someone available to help you with normal daily activities is essential to proper healing. Depending on the patient, in about two weeks, most can handle daily needs independently.
Physical Therapy
Physical therapy and a home exercise program will include strength, flexibility, and range of motion exercises. This will be a daily activity as the patient adjusts to their new shoulder. It will take approximately 12-16 weeks for the body to reach the level of mobility and activity enjoyed before the surgery, and physical therapy is vital to this. A physical therapist will guide the patient through recovery, increasing the intensity of exercises as the patient is able. Everyone is different; therefore, progress will vary. However, pushing physical therapy too quickly can cause complications and prolong adjustment, so caution is advised.
Shoulder replacement is a very involved procedure, and recovery will take time. It takes a couple of weeks before a person can handle daily activities, as long as six weeks before a sling is no longer needed, and additional weeks before physical therapy concludes. However, mobility and strength will return to the arm and the replaced shoulder joint in time. Be patient and focused on recovery, and soon the quality of life and improved mobility will occur.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics
Are you experiencing shoulder pain and reduced range of motion due to osteoarthritis? Have you exhausted your non-surgical options? Carolina Regional Orthopaedics can help. Our orthopedic team includes Dr. Hardy Singh, a shoulder replacement specialist. Dr. Singh will create a care plan to reduce pain and increase mobility. Contact us today at 252-443-0400 and schedule an appointment.