Shoulder Replacement

If you have severe arthritis or a fracture in your shoulder joint, you may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery. During surgery, the orthopedic surgeon replaces the worn parts of your shoulder joint with artificial parts. It is a complex procedure performed to relieve shoulder pain and improve mobility and function.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is a “ball and socket” joint, with the ball-shaped head of the humerus (upper arm bone) fitting into a socket called the glenoid. The glenoid is smaller and is part of the shoulder blade (scapula).

The group of tendons and their associated muscles that surrounds the humeral head is called the rotator cuff. It helps with lifting and rotating the arm and helps to stabilize the shoulder as well as facilitate shoulder movement. The ball is held in the socket by ligaments and by the rotator cuff tendons.

Ideal Candidate for Shoulder Replacement Surgery

You may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery if

  • You are experiencing severe pain associated with arthritis.
  • You have severely fractured your shoulder.
  • You have a massive rotator cuff tear.
  • You have severe pain at night.
  • You are unable to perform your daily activities.
  • You have tried conservative treatments and they have not relieved your symptoms.

Severe pain at night and an inability to perform normal daily functions are two of the most common reasons patients consider shoulder replacement surgery.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In a standard shoulder replacement surgery, a plastic cup replaces the worn cartilage surface of the shoulder socket (glenoid), and a metal ball is attached to the top of the humerus to replace the worn cartilage surface of the humeral head. Typically, the ball is attached to the humerus via a stem that is inserted down the shaft of the humerus. 

In a reverse shoulder replacement surgery, the reverse prosthesis switches up the anatomy of the shoulder, replacing the socket portion of the joint with a ball and the ball portion of the joint with a socket. In this procedure, the deltoid muscle becomes the power source of the shoulder. Reverse shoulder replacement surgery is often recommended for patients who cannot undergo a standard shoulder replacement surgery due to severe shoulder arthritis,  a severe fracture, or a massive, irreparable rotator cuff tear.

If your orthopedic surgeon considers you a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery, he will help you plan and prepare for your shoulder surgery. 

Recovery After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

After shoulder replacement surgery, your shoulder will be immobilized in a brace for a few weeks to protect it from sudden movement and further injury. 

Immediately after surgery, you’ll be encouraged to begin passive range of motion exercises (as tolerated) using your other hand to move the operative shoulder. This movement is essential to prevent shoulder stiffness.

At 6 weeks post-op, you’ll begin physical therapy, starting with active range of motion exercises where you move your operative shoulder without the assistance of the other hand. As your range of motion increases, you will move on to strengthening exercises. 

You can expect full recovery from shoulder replacement surgery within 10 to 12 months.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery in Modesto, CA

If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons to discuss shoulder replacement surgery, call OrthoMed at (209) 524-4438. You may also request an appointment online.

Shoulder Replacement FAQs

Is shoulder replacement a major surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery is major surgery and, therefore, requires general anesthesia. After the surgery, it is normal to feel groggy and tired as you recover. 

You should plan to take it easy the first couple of days after surgery. You may be able to return to one-handed work or desk work within a week or two after surgery. However, if your work involves using your operative arm and if that work is rigorous or physically demanding, you may need to be off work or on light-duty for 3 to 4 months following surgery.

At OrthoMed, your surgeon will work out a plan that is optimal for you so that you can return to work and recreational activities safely.

How long is shoulder replacement surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery usually takes about 2.5 hours. This includes anesthesia time.

What type of anesthesia is used for shoulder replacement surgery?

A combination of general anesthesia and regional anesthesia is used for shoulder replacement surgery. The regional anesthesia is called an “interscalene block.” It provides extended pain relief to help with the immediate postoperative pain. 

Is shoulder replacement surgery painful?

Everyone has different thresholds for pain. In general, you can expect to have pain for which you will take pain medication for 2 to 5 days after surgery. The purpose of the interscalene block is to minimize the amount of pain you feel after surgery and thus decreasing your need for narcotic pain medication the first few days postoperatively.

Where is shoulder replacement surgery performed?

Typically, shoulder replacement surgery is performed in a hospital or at a surgery center, depending upon your medical history, health status, and insurance coverage. At a hospital, you can expect to stay overnight after surgery and will most likely be discharged the following day. If you have your shoulder replacement performed at a surgery center, you will be free to go home the same day.

What can you expect immediately after shoulder replacement surgery?

After shoulder replacement surgery, if an interscalene block is done, you will have numbness of your operative arm until it wears off between 8-12 hours. However, if you go home with a nerve catheter, the numbness will continue until you remove it. 

You can expect to feel tired and sluggish after surgery. This is normal. Some patients feel this way for up to 2 weeks after surgery. 

Your first postoperative visit with your surgeon will usually take place 7-10 days after surgery.

Do you need a sling after shoulder replacement surgery?

After shoulder replacement surgery, you will need to wear a sling for approximately 6 weeks. This is to protect your shoulder from further injury. 

How soon after shoulder replacement do you start physical therapy?

You will start physical therapy within 6 weeks after shoulder replacement surgery. Physical therapy is an integral part of your recovery. It is important that you fully participate in physical therapy and listen to your doctor’s aftercare instructions to achieve an optimal outcome.

How soon after shoulder replacement surgery can you shower?

After surgery, you may shower once you feel comfortable enough to do so. If you have a nerve catheter in place, you will need to wait until it is removed to shower. 

Do not soak in a tub, hot tub, or pool after surgery. It is best to wait until after your first postoperative visit with your surgeon and after your surgical incision is completely healed before you do such activities.

What clothes should you wear after a shoulder replacement surgery?

After surgery, wear more oversized, loose-fitting shirts, especially shirts with a large neck opening and button-down shirts are helpful. For women, tank tops would be most comfortable.

How do you sleep after shoulder replacement surgery?

Sleep after shoulder replacement surgery can be pretty challenging. Many patients find sleeping more upright, propped up on pillows or a wedge pillow, or sleeping in a recliner to be very helpful.

How successful is shoulder replacement surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery works very well to alleviate chronic pain and discomfort. Most patients report they are very satisfied with the results of their surgery. 

What are the risks of shoulder replacement surgery?

The risks associated with shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Infection    
  • Nerve or blood vessel injury    
  • Persistent shoulder pain    
  • Implant dislocation    
  • Loosening of the implant(s) from bone over time 
  • Tearing of the rotator cuff with resultant poor function of the shoulder replacement
  • The need for additional shoulder surgery


1335 Coffee Road Suite #101
Modesto, CA 95355

Phone: (209) 524-4438

Monday through Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

About Us
OrthoMed Center aims to be the preferred provider of high-quality musculoskeletal care to the people of Modesto. We provide cutting-edge medical care while also ensuring we treat patients and their families with the utmost compassion as they find their way back to good health.
Talk To Us
2024 All Rights Reserved

 Medical Website Design by Numana Digital

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram