Post-Op Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement Instructions

Pre-Op Information

  1. Anesthesia risk – this is very rare with all the modern techniques and monitoring of your condition while in surgery
  2. Infection – usually the infection risk is less than 1%. It is higher in smokers, poorly-controlled diabetics, and obese patients.
  3. Nerve damage – this is rare. Problems can range from numbness to paralysis. This is usually temporary but can be permanent.
  4. Blood vessel injury – this is rare but the risk is not zero. If a significant injury occurs, the patient may need emergency blood vessel surgery.
  5. Medical complications – with any surgery, there is a small risk of heart attack, stroke or pneumonia.
  6. Stiffness – Most patients are happy with improved motion. However, some patients may become stiff due to excess scar tissue formation, lack of physical therapy or other reasons.
  7. Hospital stay – usually 24-48 hours (commonly 1 night).
  8. Recovery time – 3 months to one year. You should feel better than current in 4-6 weeks.
  9. Ensure that:
    1. You have someone at home to help out.
    2. You have received/discussed prescription for post-operative medication
    3. You have obtained all imaging studies (CT scan and/or MRI) that Dr. A has ordered
    4. You have discussed with your PCP and obtained necessary lab work

In Hospital

  1. A nerve block is frequently performed for pain control. This lasts for up to 12 hours.
    1. This is a very safe procedure. The anesthesiologist will discuss this further when they meet you.
  2. You will be in a sling and will come out of it to do pendulum exercises with the therapists.
  3. Sometimes a drain is placed during surgery that is removed the day after surgery
  4. If pain and nausea controlled, then you may leave the day after surgery.

Post-Operative Course

  1. Do not put weight on the shoulder for the 1st 4 weeks (non-weight bearing).
  2. Most patients find that a 60-tablet prescription of pain medication is sufficient. The initial 3-5 days are most painful but manageable with pain killer medications.
  3. You may need to sleep on a recliner because of the sling.
  4. You may shower after surgery but keep the wound covered and do not soak
  5. Take the dressing off 5 daysafter surgery.
  6. Keep sling on for 4 weeks.
    1. Short duration does not give enough time to heal and too long will lead to stiffnes
  7. Physical therapy begins 2-3 weeks from surgery.
  8. They will try to maximize your motion by week 8.
  9. Stiches are usually absorbable, but this may vary on some cases
  10. I will see you 2- and 6-weeks post-op. X-rays will be performed at the 6 week visit.
  11. You may consider using the arm for driving in 4-6 weeks.
  12. Traveling: Most patients can go on long plane flights at 4 weeks after the surgery.
  13. Metal detectors at airports: your shoulder replacement will set off the metal detectors when you go through airport security. Please inform the security agent before you go through the detector that you have an implant. A wallet card or letter indicating that you have an implant is usually not helpful.
  14. Dental procedures: for any dental cleaning, dental surgery, you should take antibiotics before the procedure. Dr. A recommends that you do this for the rest of your life. Please consult with Dr. A about the choice of antibiotics, and she can prescribe this for you.

Please click here for further post-op instructions.