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Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

During shoulder replacement surgery, all or part of your problem shoulder is replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. The prosthesis replaces the rough, worn parts of your shoulder with smooth metal and plastic parts.

Front view of shoulder joint with total shoulder replacement.

Before your surgery

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

  • Follow any directions you are given for taking medicines or for not eating or drinking before surgery.

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

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

The surgical procedure

When the surgical team is ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through surgery. Your surgeon 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 surgeon closes the incision with surgical staples or sutures (stitches).

After your surgery

After surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (postanesthesia 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, health care providers will help you get up and moving. You may also have physical therapy after surgery.

You may need to wear an arm sling for a few weeks.

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 100.4°F (38°C)

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.