Shoulder Replacement Surgery | Orthopaedics | Loyola Medicine

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Advanced Surgical Techniques for Shoulder Replacement

When shoulder pain doesn’t respond to conservative measures like medication and physical therapy, shoulder replacement surgery is a reliable way to alleviate pain and allow you to return to normal activities. Loyola Medicine’s board-certified shoulder surgeons provide a number of treatment options to relieve pain and achieve greater motion in the shoulder. 

At Loyola, you will benefit from the broad experience of our orthopaedic surgical team and their multidisciplinary approach to care. Shoulder replacement surgery may be recommended for the following conditions:

During a total shoulder replacement surgery, Loyola’s multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic specialists replaces injured or damaged parts of the joint with artificial parts made of metal, ceramic or plastic. Our orthopaedic shoulder specialists are also experienced in revision surgeries to correct problems caused by previous unsuccessful shoulder replacements, including:

  • Reverse total shoulder replacement — Used for patients who have large or irreparable rotator cuff tears, or who have a specific type of shoulder arthritis (cuff tear arthropathy). In a conventional shoulder replacement, the new ball and socket mimic the shoulder’s natural anatomy. In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the artificial socket and ball of the shoulder are switched.
  • Revision shoulder replacement — If a previous shoulder replacement surgery left you with stiffness, pain, instability or reduced range of motion, a revision surgery may be required. It can also correct problems such as dislocation, implant loosening or general wear on artificial parts.

What to Expect with Shoulder Replacement Surgery

During your shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon will remove the ends of the shoulder bone (scapula) and the upper arm bone (humerus) and replace them with a plastic socket and a stem with a rounded metal head. The new parts of your shoulder joint may be held in place with cement or made with materials that allow new bone to grow into the joint over time.

Shoulder replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes about two hours. After the surgery, you will be in the hospital for one to three days. Afterward, you will need to wear a sling to support and protect your shoulder for two to four weeks after surgery, and you won’t be able to drive a car during this period. 

Expect to have a period of reduced range of motion after your surgery. For a few weeks, it will be hard to reach high shelves and cupboards. You can plan for this by putting regularly used items on low shelves before your surgery. Your total rehabilitation after surgery can take several months and is benefitted by your regular activity and movement. 

A well-planned rehabilitation will help you recover quickly. You will be scheduled to start gentle physical therapy or rehab shortly after surgery. Your shoulder surgeon will provide medication to manage your pain. You’ll also be prescribed a home exercise program to strengthen your shoulder. Learn more about orthopaedic rehabilitation.

What are the Risks of Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Your Loyola healthcare team will discuss the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure with you prior to your surgery. After shoulder replacement surgery, you may experience issues with the artificial parts of the new joint or nerve damage near the shoulder. With any surgery, there is risk of infection, vein thrombosis and blood clots. Loyola’s surgeons are experts in their field and do everything possible to limit complications from surgery.