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Shoulder Replacement FAQs

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Shoulder Replacement Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

If you deal with chronic pain that stems from health conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may already be considering a shoulder replacement. You likely have questions about the surgery, recovery from shoulder surgery and other concerns.

At Memorial Hermann, our purpose is to provide you with the tools you need to make an informed decision about your health care. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about shoulder replacement surgery.

How long does it take to recover from shoulder replacement?

While full recovery from shoulder replacement surgery may take up to 12 months, functional recovery — such as eating with a fork, using the bathroom, typing or texting — can take as few as 10 days or as long as 2 to 3 weeks. It will take some time for your full range of motion to return.

Will I need help at home after surgery?

You will need help at home during recovery, especially in the days immediately after surgery. Because your arm will be in a sling for some time, someone will need to help you with any task that typically requires the use of both arms.

Can I walk around after having surgery?

Staying as active as possible is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even though your arm will be in a sling, you may still walk around the house or even outside. Just remember not to engage in any strenuous activity, especially in the days immediately following your surgery.

Is shoulder replacement absolutely necessary?

Because osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are chronic, progressive conditions, shoulder surgery is the best option to regain your mobility and improve quality of life. While some people seek alternatives, shoulder replacement has shown concrete evidence of improvement throughout time.

How does reverse shoulder replacement differ from total shoulder replacement?

Reverse shoulder replacement uses a technique and materials that are different from the traditional shoulder replacement surgery. Instead of using a metal stem and plastic dish, the reverse procedure employs a ball and cup to add stability to the joint. Because it does not rely so much on the rotator cuff for stability and instead utilizes other surrounding soft tissues, many patients experience faster recovery time and improved range of motion.

How do I know I am a candidate for reverse shoulder replacement?

Your surgeon will make the determination as to the course of treatment. Most surgeons who have learned the procedure will recommend it as the primary mode of treatment due to its positive outcomes.

Will I need a sling after surgery?

Yes. Most shoulder surgeries will require you to immobilize your arm for some time (usually 2 to 3 weeks) as you recover.

Will I need physical therapy after surgery?

All shoulder surgeries typically require some physical therapy. Many shoulder replacement patients attend some combination of in-office physical therapy and at-home exercises for at least 6 months after surgery, but it may take up to a year for full mobility to return.

Still have questions? Contact Memorial Hermann today.

The affiliated surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists at Memorial Hermann focus on providing you with a full treatment plan that is customized to your needs. Our primary goal is to get you back to being able to do what matters to you and to improve your quality of life. If you still have questions about chronic shoulder pain, shoulder replacement surgeries and follow-up care for shoulder pain, contact us todayor find a joint center location near you.