Shoulder Replacement

You don’t have to be a major league pitcher for shoulder pain to have an impact on your life. Arthritis and joint disease can make reaching and lifting — ways you move your arm everyday — difficult and painful. If you haven’t found relief with non-surgical treatment options, shoulder replacement surgery may be the most effective way to relieve your pain.

It’s good to know you have help close to home with the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Orthopaedic team.

What is Shoulder Replacement?

Your shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It’s made up of three bones — the humerus, (the upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (shoulder blade). The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the ball on the end of your humerus against the cup-shaped socket (glenoid) of your shoulder bone. The rotator cuff also helps you raise and lift your arm.

When the shoulder bones or cartilage become damaged due to arthritis or joint disease, the ball and socket grind against one another. That makes it painful to lift, swing or rotate your arm. Shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the ball at the head of the humerus with a metal implant and the socket with another implant. The new, artificial joint allows smooth, pain-free movement of the joint.

What to Expect with Shoulder Replacement Surgery

If shoulder replacement is the best option to relieve your pain, your Surgeon will discuss the surgical approach that’s right for you. If your rotator cuff is also damaged, you may need a reverse shoulder replacement. You may be a candidate for a new, minimally invasive option, the Rotator Cuff-Sparing Shoulder Replacement. It’s an innovative approach that allows for faster healing and less pain.

If possible, you’ll be up sitting in a chair the day of surgery. Physical therapy begins the day after surgery and your therapist will inform you about your activity restrictions. Shoulder replacement recovery varies, taking from six to nine months, depending on the type of surgery you have. Your Orthopaedic team is with you every step of the way.

Why St. Elizabeth Healthcare?

When it comes to excellence in total shoulder replacement surgery and care, St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers you a nationally recognized team of experts close to home. Your orthopedic care team consists of physicians, nurses, therapists, program coordinator, nurse managers and team leaders. Our focus is on you and helping you get back to an active life with less pain.

Total Shoulder Replacement

Thank you for choosing St. Elizabeth Healthcare for your orthopedic needs. If you’ve chosen surgery to reduce your chronic pain, increase your mobility, and improve your quality of life, the Orthopaedic Team at St. Elizabeth is committed to helping you reclaim your life.

Our team walks you through each step of the surgical process and helps you to make educated decisions regarding your care. The following links will help you know what to expect before, during, and after your surgical procedure.

Shoulder Replacement – FAQs

Shoulder replacement is major surgery. If it’s an option you’re considering, you probably have lots of questions. The Orthopaedic team at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, which includes affiliated orthopaedic surgeons from OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, are here to answer all your questions. We want you to understand what shoulder replacement surgery involves, what you can expect during recovery and how shoulder replacement will impact your life. These are a few questions we frequently get from people considering shoulder replacement surgery.

Total shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the ball at the head of the upper arm (humerus) with an implant and the socket in the shoulder bone with an implant. If your rotator cuff is damaged, your surgeon may do a reverse total shoulder replacement. It reverses placement of the new prostheses, implanting the ball in the shoulder bone and the socket on the humerus allowing you to lift your arm.

The rotator cuff sparing method involves a faster recovery with less pain. Traditional shoulder replacement uses an incision at the front of the shoulder and requires cutting muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff sparing method uses an incision at the back of the shoulder, which eliminates the need to cut muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff.

Yes, after you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll need someone with you for several weeks.

You’ll need physical therapy after surgery to regain full movement and to strengthen the muscles around the joint. The length of time will vary, depending on the type of surgery you have, your health and activity level before surgery. Typically, you’ll need to commit to six to nine months of rehabilitation and home exercise.

You’ll need to wear a sling at all times for three weeks after surgery, and at night and in public for up to six weeks. You won’t be able to lift anything heavier than a glass of water for the first six weeks. Your doctor and physical therapist will monitor your progress and determine when you can start using your arm for daily activities.

You probably won’t be able to drive for at least 4-6 weeks after surgery. Never drive when you’re taking prescription pain medication. Your surgeon or physical therapist will tell you when you’re cleared to drive.

For the first six weeks, you can’t lift anything heavier than a glass of water. Your surgeon and physical therapist will monitor your progress and determine when your new joint can handle more weight.

The surgery usually takes one to two hours, but can take longer for more complicated cases.

You’ll probably be in the hospital 1-2 nights, but it can vary.

The pain you had from arthritis before surgery will be gone after surgery, but you will have surgical/muscle pain. You’ll have pain for several weeks following surgery, but it will decrease as you heal and get stronger.

You’ll have to take some precautions after surgery, like avoiding quick, sharp movements, falls and stress to your shoulder joint. Your physical therapist will talk with you about how to protect your new joint.

New shoulder joints typically last 10-20 years.

Gold Seal of Quality Certification for Shoulder Surgery by Joint Commission

St. Elizabeth has achieved the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for shoulder replacement surgery. The Gold Seal symbolizes St. Elizabeth’s commitment to providing high-quality, safe orthopedic care. The designation is a first for St. Elizabeth Healthcare total shoulder replacement program.

The Joint Commission is the leading accreditor of healthcare organizations in America. The organization uses information from health care experts, patients, providers and scientific and medical literature to evaluate a facility’s compliance with safety and quality standards.

Contact Us

Is your shoulder pain bothering you?

Schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians for a treatment plan tailored to you. Call (859) 212-5600 to make an appointment.

Surgical Options

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at