Shoulder replacement - discharge
You had shoulder replacement surgery to replace the bones of your shoulder joint with artificial joint 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're going home, be sure to follow your surgeon's instructions on how to take care of your new shoulder. Use the information below as a reminder.
Total shoulder arthroplasty - discharge; Endoprosthetic shoulder replacement - discharge; Partial shoulder replacement - discharge; Partial shoulder arthroplasty - discharge; Replacement - shoulder - discharge; Arthroplasty - shoulder - discharge
When You're in the Hospital
While in the hospital, you should have received pain medicine. You also learned how to manage swelling around your new joint.
Your doctor or physical therapist may have taught you exercises to do at home.
What to Expect at Home
Your shoulder area may feel warm and tender for 2 to 4 weeks. The swelling should go down during this time. You may want to make some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself.
Arrange for someone to help you with daily tasks such as driving, shopping, bathing, making meals, and housework for up to 6 weeks.
You will need to wear a sling for the first 6 weeks after surgery. Rest your shoulder and elbow on a rolled up towel or small pillow when lying down.
Keep doing the exercises you were taught for as long as you were told. This helps strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder and ensures the shoulder heals well.
Follow instructions on safe ways to move and use your shoulder.
You may not be able to drive for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when it is OK.
Consider making some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself.
Ask your doctor about which sports and other activities are OK for you after you recover.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take the pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it allows the pain to get worse than it should.
Narcotic pain medicine (codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone) can make you constipated. If you are taking them, drink plenty of fluids, and eat fruits and vegetables and other high-fiber foods to help keep your stools loose.
DO NOT drink alcohol or drive if you are taking these pain medicines. These medicines may make you too sleepy to drive safely.
Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other anti-inflammatory medicines with your prescription pain medicine may also help. Your doctor may also give you aspirin to prevent blood clots. Stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines if you take aspirin. Follow instructions exactly on how to take your medicines.
Sutures (stitches) or staples will be removed about 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
Keep the dressing (bandage) over your wound clean and dry. Change the dressing as instructed.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the 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.
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