St. Joseph Health System
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Shoulder Replacement

During shoulder replacement surgery, your shoulder doctor will replace all or part of your problem shoulder with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. The prosthesis replaces the rough, worn parts of your shoulder with smooth metal and plastic parts. These parts are skillfully integrated during shoulder surgery.

Parts of an artificial shoulder

During shoulder surgery your shoulder doctor will use a plastic socket to replace your existing shoulder socket. A metal ball will replace the head of your arm bone. Your surgeon will attach a metal stem to the ball and will fit it into your arm bone. With a total replacement, both the ball and socket are replaced.

Before your surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of your scheduled shoulder surgery. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery.

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.
  • If you take a daily medication, ask your shoulder doctor if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during shoulder surgery.

The surgical procedure

When your shoulder doctor and the rest of the surgical team are ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through shoulder surgery. Your shoulder doctor may replace just the ball (partial replacement) or both the ball and the socket (total replacement). An incision about six inches long is made from your collarbone to your arm. Once the new joint is in place, your shoulder doctor closes the incision with surgical staples or sutures (stitches).

After your surgery

After your shoulder replacement surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. Soon, our skilled Joint University orthopedic team will help you get up and moving. They know precisely what they’re doing and how to help you recover, heal, and get back to life in the fastest, safest way possible. You may also have physical therapy or occupational therapy after your shoulder surgery.

This will be coordinated by your Joint University team.

You may need to wear an arm sling for two to four weeks, based on the advice of your shoulder doctor.

Risks and complications

As with any surgery, shoulder replacement surgery carries possible risks and complications. These include the following:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Dislocation of the joint or loosening of the prosthesis
  • Fracture
  • Wearing out the prosthetic
  • Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves
  • Pain

When to Call Your Doctor

Once at home, call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • An increase in pain not relieved by your pain medicine
  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
  • Fever over 101.0°F (38.3°C)

“Dr. Iero was an invaluable find! I have no more pain in my shoulder. My range of motion is back and I can play the violin again!”
~Carol Whiting, St. Joseph Orthopedic Patient

“When I could no longer shoot a basketball with my kids, I knew it was time to do something about my shoulder. Dr. Zissimos and his staff helped me prepare for, plan and schedule my surgery for the least possible limits on my business activities.”
~Rolf Larson, St. Joseph Orthopedic Patient

“I love tennis. But shoulder pain was keeping me from playing. Not anymore! I love being able to do it all again without having to worry about pain. And I have Dr. Iero to thank for that!”
~Alana Winklemann, St. Joseph Orthopedic Patient

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