Your shoulders make it possible for you to carry loads, rotate and lift your arm, and perform the many tasks of everyday life. Of course, healthy, strong shoulders are also essential for sports activities including baseball, swimming, and basketball – virtually all activity that involves the upper body.
If you have had long-term, disabling pain in your shoulder, your doctor might recommend shoulder replacement surgery. There are many types of shoulder replacement procedures; some involve replacing only part of the shoulder, and others involve total replacement.
Who Gets Shoulder Replacements?
Most shoulder replacement procedures are done due to pain and stiffness in the joint and surrounding area, caused by a chronic condition such as arthritis. Also, shoulder replacement surgery is performed following a traumatic injury to the shoulder joints, surrounding bones, and the tendons that hold the joint in place.
Whatever type of surgery you need, it’s important that an experienced surgeon who is an expert in shoulder replacement perform the procedure.
Preparing for Shoulder Surgery
Several weeks before your scheduled surgery, your general practitioner – and likely also your orthopedic surgeon – will perform a comprehensive exam to make sure that surgery is a safe and effective option for you. If you take any medications, your doctors will advise which ones to keep taking, which ones to stop taking right before your procedure, and other details surrounding any medications.
What Happens in Shoulder Surgery?
Most patients having shoulder surgery are admitted the same day of the procedure. Occasionally, patients are admitted earlier if needed.
In the pre-operation (pre-op) area, nurses, doctors, and other medical personnel prepare you for your procedure. This includes taking your blood pressure, administering any needed pre-op medications, and getting you changed into a gown and onto a gurney (moveable bed).
Shoulder replacement surgery typically takes a few hours, but that can vary depending on the complexity of the operation and other factors. Some patients receive general anesthesia that puts you fully to sleep, while others may receive local anesthesia which eliminates pain in a focused area of your body.
After your procedure, you will recover in the post-op area where medical staff will monitor your recovery. From there, you will be taken to your hospital room, receive all pain medications that you need, and be checked routinely for any possible complications. Most patients are discharged in one to three days.
After Being Discharged from the Hospital
It’s important to plan ahead, as you will not be able to use the arm being operated on. It will be in a sling, so wearing easy-on and easy-off clothing is helpful.
Of course, you will need transportation home, and help with managing tasks in the first few days after you get home. If you do not have someone to provide care for you at home, your doctor may send you to a rehabilitation facility until you can function on your own.
It’s important to speak up if you have any questions about what you should or should not do following shoulder replacement surgery. In general, take it easy, and keep to the level of activity recommended by your doctor. Also, watch for any signs of infection, including redness at the incision site, shooting pain, or feeling feverish.
You should see your doctor for a follow-up appointment as recommended, and only take medications that have been prescribed and allowed for you. Recovery times vary, but most people are able to resume light tasks within a few weeks, drive within six weeks, and perform strenuous physical activity after about six months or more.
Contact an Orthopedic Specialist in Upstate New York
If you are experiencing any kind of shoulder pain, knee pain, or other musculoskeletal or joint pain or numbness, contact our orthopedic specialists in Watertown or Lowville. It’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation.
North Country Orthopaedic Group can give you a detailed evaluation of your musculoskeletal health, and help resolve problems or issues in your bones and joints. Don’t wait – call us today at (315) 782-1650 or use our online appointment request form to get started. We look forward to helping you feel better and live a more pain-free lifestyle.