Dr. Stephen B. Gunther

Sentara Martha Jefferson Orthopedics & Sports Medicine: 595 Martha Jefferson Drive Charlottesville, VA 22911

After Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery: Recovery, Protection & Results

Posted by Community Manager 2 on October 10, 2016 8:40 PM EDT
Community Manager 2 photo

In this video I answer a number of important questions about what to expect after Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery. A complete transcript of the video can be found at the bottom of this blog for those wanting to do additional research on some of the key terms I use.


Protecting Shoulder After Total Shoulder Replacement:

I lecture my patients before surgery, and their families about how to protect the shoulder to keep it in a sling and to avoid reaching out like that because we have to repair the front of the rotator cuff so they don’t want to pull in after surgery or don’t want to stretch out too far.  I teach them how to take on their sling and how to put it back on, and how to put clothes on and off. Physical therapists will meet with them the morning after surgery, in the hospital, to go over all of this information again and with any family members that are there.  And they need to protect their shoulders when they go home. When they sleep they need to sleep in a sling, they can let their arm sit down on their lap like that, but they can’t go using it like that after surgery.  So they will have postoperative physical therapy as outpatients after they leave surgery, as well.

The Recovery Process After Total Shoulder Replacement

That’s a good question and it completely depends upon what they think is a full recovery. The patient will see me the morning after surgery and the physical therapist the morning after surgery and we will go over how to use the sling, how to perform gentle, passive motion exercises, how to protect the repair again.  They will be icing the shoulder for the first several days after surgery, they will wean off medications over the first week after surgery. They will be in sling for six weeks, after that they will begin a little more exercise, slow advancement into some gentle, active exercises and then progressing exercises with a physical therapy over a course of months. And then their rotator cuff muscles are going to increase in strength and the shoulder is going to increase function for up to a year after surgery.  So the first few months are really important, to abide by all the precautions and really protect the shoulder as well as possible so that you have a great repair for a long time. 

What are the Expected Results of Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

The results of any surgery depend upon the surgeon, of course, and the patient, and the post operative rehabilitation.  So there can be somewhat different for different problems and different patients and with different surgeons with different techniques. In general, shoulder replacement surgery performed today, in this era,  in our country, are very successful in terms of pain relief, improved motion compared to preop motion, improved function compared to preop function. So, the results are excellent, in general.  There are some potential complications that can happen with infection, with instability of the implants, or instability of the joint, or loosening of implants over time. But I would say most patients in my practice are very happy and have very high success rates

There are no comments

Sign in to add your comment.

Recent Posts

After Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery: Recovery, Protection & Results
In this video I answer a number of important questions about what to expect after Total Shoulder...
read more
What is shoulder arthritis?
In the video below I describe what arthritis is and show what a healthy and unhealthy shoulder joint...
read more

Go to blog