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.
You received pain medicine. You also learned how to manage swelling around your new joint.
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.
You will need help 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 on a rolled up towel or small pillow when lying down.
Your doctor or physical therapist may teach you exercises to do at home. Keep doing the exercises for as long as you are 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 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 your pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it will allow your 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.
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. You may change the dressing every day if you like. DO NOT:
- Shower until after your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when you can begin taking showers. When you do, let the water run over the incision. DO NOT scrub.
- Soak your wound in the bath tub or a hot tub for at least the first 3 weeks.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding that soaks through your dressing and does not stop when you place pressure over the area
- Pain that does not go away when you take your pain medicine
- Numbness or tingling in your fingers or hand
- Your hand or fingers are darker in color or feel cool to the touch
- Swelling in your arm
- Your new shoulder joint does not feel secure, like it is moving around or shifting
- Redness, pain, swelling, or a yellowish discharge from the wound
- Temperature higher than 101°F (38.3°C)
- Shortness of breath
Total shoulder arthroplasty - discharge; Endoprosthetic shoulder replacement - discharge; Partial shoulder replacement - discharge; Partial shoulder arthroplasty - discharge; Replacement - shoulder - discharge; Arthroplasty - shoulder - discharge
Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplasty. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 12.
Review Date 11/26/2014
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.