What to Expect After Shoulder Replacement Surgery - UPMC

What to Expect After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Your physician will exhaust every option to treat shoulder pain before recommending surgery. However, sometimes surgery can be the last and best option to help improve function and decrease pain in your shoulder.

Although the surgery itself usually takes just a couple hours, fully recovering from shoulder replacement surgery can take months to well over a year. You’ll go through a physiotherapy program, as well as follow an exercise plan at home. How well you stick to these plans will determine how successful, and how fast, your recovery is.

Recovery Immediately After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

After surgery, you’ll likely go home after a couple days in the hospital. You will have a sling on your arm to protect and support your shoulder.

Physiotherapy often starts right away. At first a therapist will help you do passive movement exercises, which means you will relax and let the therapist move your arm for you. You shouldn’t use your shoulder muscles for a few weeks after surgery.

The main goal of early physical therapy is to help the patient to begin to perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and driving.

Although the exercises may seem minor at first, they are important to keeping your shoulder loose, and they set the foundation for more advanced exercises.

Additionally, after surgery it is important to watch for signs of infection and to be sure to take care of the incision site. Call your physician if you have:

  • A fever over 38 degrees
  • Drainage from the incision
  • Pain that can’t be managed with the medication given

For more information on joint replacement options, make an appointment to see one of our consultant orthopaedic surgeons at UPMC Whitfield, UPMC Kildare, or UPMC Aut Even.

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