Using your shoulder after replacement surgery
You had shoulder replacement surgery to replace the bones of your shoulder joint with artificial parts. The parts include a stem made of metal and a metal ball that fits on the top of the stem. A plastic piece is used as the new surface of the shoulder blade.
Now that you are home you will need to know how to protect your shoulder as it heals.
Joint replacement surgery - using your shoulder; Shoulder replacement surgery - after
What to Expect at Home
You will need to wear a sling for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You may want to wear the sling for extra support or protection after that.
Rest your shoulder and elbow on a rolled up towel or small pillow when lying down. This helps prevent damage to your shoulder from the stretching of the muscles or tendons. You will need to keep doing this for 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery, even when wearing a sling.
Your surgeon or physical therapist may teach you pendulum exercises to do at home for 4 to 6 weeks. To do these exercises:
Your surgeon or physical therapist will also teach you safe ways to move your arm and shoulder:
These exercises and movements may be hard but they will get easier over time. It is very important to do these as your surgeon or therapist showed you. Doing these exercises will help your shoulder get better faster. They will help you be more active after you recover.
Activities and movements you should try to avoid are:
Wear the sling all the time unless your surgeon says you do not have to.
After 4 to 6 weeks, your surgeon or physical therapist will show you other exercises to stretch your shoulder and gain more movement in your joint.
Returning to sports and other activities
Ask your surgeon which sports and other activities are OK for you after you recover.
Always think about how to safely use your shoulder before you move or start an activity. To protect your new shoulder avoid:
You will probably not be able to drive for at least 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. You should not drive when you are taking narcotics. Your surgeon or physical therapist will tell you when driving is OK.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your surgeon or nurse if you have any of the following:
Edwards TB, Morris BJ. Rehabilitation after shoulder arthroplasty. In: Edwards TB, Morris BJ, eds. Shoulder Arthroplasty. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 43.
Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplasty. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.
Review Date: 11/5/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.