What to expect before reverse shoulder replacement surgery?
You will meet with your surgeon and review your symptoms and concerns. X-rays will likely be obtained during your visit. You may also be asked to obtain a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan) and possibly a computerized tomography scan (CT scan). This imaging will give your surgeon an excellent understanding of what’s causing your shoulder pain and any diminished shoulder range of motion. You will also receive a full physical exam.
Once your surgeon determines what is affecting your shoulder, you will likely receive a conservative course of treatment and pain management therapies. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids may be prescribed. If your symptoms persist, your surgeon may recommend shoulder replacement surgery.
How to prepare for shoulder replacement surgery?
Your shoulder surgery will be scheduled with advanced notice, and you may be asked to revisit your surgeon once again to review your pre-surgical workup. If you obtained a CT scan, your surgeon may review a 3D surgical plan with you to demonstrate how they determined which implant fits you best!
Several weeks before your shoulder surgery, you may be asked to do basic exercises for your rotator cuff muscles and abstain from any alcohol consumption to help with your shoulder replacement recovery. It is recommended that you talk to your surgeon about any prescribed or unprescribed drugs or narcotics you are taking and follow their instruction carefully. If you smoke, you will be asked to cease smoking because studies have found that smoking can increase your risk for post-operative complications6.
The day before your shoulder replacement surgery, you will likely have to fast, meaning abstaining from eating or drinking most foods and beverages on the eve of your shoulder surgery as prescribed by your doctor. You may also be given a special soap to clean your shoulder.
What to expect on the day of reverse shoulder replacement surgery?
You will be asked to arrive at the hospital or ambulatory surgery center up to two (2) hours prior to your operation. You will complete any remaining paperwork and a nurse will start an IV.
Shoulder replacement is performed under general anesthesia and your anesthesiologist will talk to you about your options and any concerns just prior to your shoulder surgery. You may even be given a local injection to “block” any shoulder pain after your shoulder replacement.
Immediately after your shoulder replacement has been completed, your surgeon will talk to your family and friends, and let them know it’s done, how it went and most importantly, how you are doing.
When you wake up, you will be in a recovery room or recovery area. There, your anesthesia will wear off and you will be stabilized. When you are feeling comfortable, you will be moved to an area or a room where you will be able to see your family and friends.
Before you are discharged from the hospital or ambulatory surgery center (ASC), your shoulder surgeon will talk to you about how your shoulder surgery went, your shoulder replacement recovery, and your overall well-being. You may also work with an occupational or physical therapist who may ask you to perform some movements that will help determine what exercises will be best for you to do during your shoulder replacement recovery.
On the day you are discharged, right before you leave, your shoulder surgeon or a member of his or her staff will check on you and prepare you to leave the facility. Your discharge nurse will go over everything you have to do once you get home.
To make discharge and recovery as comfortable as possible, it’s recommended that you arrange for someone to drive you home and even stay with you for a period of time to help with your daily activities and needs. Arranging for and wearing loose clothing that is easy to take on and off is also a good idea.
What happens after reverse shoulder replacement surgery?
You can expect some shoulder pain. If your shoulder pain is severe enough, you may be offered pain management therapy or prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). You will likely also receive antibiotics to reduce the risk of getting an infection at your surgical site. Receiving and using a sling is not uncommon.
Your shoulder replacement recovery starts right away. You will be given a rehabilitation program that includes physical therapy (PT). Your exercises or PT may start very soon after you are discharged but could also start weeks after your operation.
Completing your physical therapy program is essential for regaining strength and motion in your shoulder.
Depending on how your recovery is going, you may expect to return to performing light daily activities two to six weeks after your surgery.
What are the risks associated with reverse shoulder replacement?
Reverse shoulder replacement results are commonly excellent. “Pooled long-term results of reverse total shoulder replacement for massive rotator cuff tears with or without arthritis show significant improvement of overhead function and of objective and subjective outcome scores up to 20 years after surgery”3.
Like all types of surgery, sometimes complications can occur with reverse shoulder replacement. Joint dislocation after reverse shoulder replacement is rare, but considered the most common type of reverse shoulder complication. When it occurs, it is usually treated conservatively, and “reduced” non-surgically, much like any other joint dislocation. If this issue becomes chronic or persistent, surgical intervention will be recommended and the reverse implant may be modified to further stabilize the shoulder.
Other types of complications are similar to most other types of joint replacement like anesthetic complications such as nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Infection of the wound, damage to blood vessels, nerves or muscles, failure to relieve pain, scapula fracture, pulmonary embolism, and wear and tear of prosthesis which may require a repeat surgery are additional potential complications7.
Find A Shoulder Specialist
If you are considering total shoulder replacement surgery, it’s important to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder replacement. Be sure to talk to your shoulder surgeon about all of your questions and concerns. He or she will be able to provide you with more detailed information about shoulder replacement surgery and what you can expect.
If you would like help locating an orthopedic surgeon who is a dedicated shoulder specialist near you, please feel free to contact us using the form.