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A Closer Look at Total Shoulder Replacement

While shoulder pain can be treated with lifestyle changes, physical therapy, medication, and steroids, surgery may be required for serious cases. If you have severe shoulder arthritis, a frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tears, or fractured bones that form the shoulder joint, you may require total shoulder replacement.

In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at this treatment. As the most serious, invasive, and complex shoulder surgery, total shoulder replacement is only performed in the most extreme cases. Keep reading to understand this treatment and determine whether you’re a candidate.

Please note that before considering any medical procedure, you should visit an orthopedic specialist at a Clear Lake Hospital for proper diagnosis.

1. The Basics

Total shoulder replacement surgery is a critical procedure that involves the complete replacement of the shoulder joint with metal and plastic parts. Owing to its complex nature, total shoulder replacement must be performed by a shoulder specialist.

This surgery is reserved for patients with a) chronic shoulder pain; b) severe shoulder damage because of an accident, trauma, etc.; or c) a serious shoulder deformity/disorder.

The shoulder comprises a ball (upper part of the humerus) and a socket (part of the shoulder blade). The socket holds the ball in place via rotator cuff tendons and ligaments. During total shoulder replacement surgery, a metal ball is used and the socket is replaced with a plastic structure that’s fixed in place with cement.

2. How Long Does Surgery Take?

a doctor performing shoulder therapy post-surgery


Total shoulder replacement surgery takes roughly three hours and patients go under anesthesia. Patients must also provide a unit of blood two to four weeks before surgery so it can be given back to them post-surgery if needed.

Recommended Read: Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

3. The Recovery Period

Patients usually stay in the hospital for three to five days. After surgery, most patients are given a morphine pump. Within a day or two, they switch to oral pain medication. Doctors will put your arm in a brace that can be taken off temporarily to perform therapy.

Physical therapy generally starts within one to two days after surgery, entailing finger, wrist, and elbow movements. You should be able to move your arm to some extent within a few days.

Once you get back home, you’ll have to keep up with certain exercises to improve mobility and prevent stiffness. Use ice bags to alleviate pain. Within a week, your stitches will be removed.

Every patient has a unique condition, set of symptoms, surgical plan, and recovery period. Follow your doctor’s instructions to a T to achieve the best outcome.

At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, you’ll find a selection of skilled orthopedic specialists to counsel you on your options. If you’ve been experiencing chronic shoulder pain, you could benefit from total shoulder replacement.

Our specialists start with comprehensive tests that allow them to provide a thorough diagnosis. If your condition cannot be treated with lifestyle changes, medication, and/or physical therapy, a surgical treatment plan could be your next option.

Find a doctor who’s right for you. As one of the leading League City Specialty Hospital, we also provide upper back pain treatment, noninvasive treatment for tremors, and other types of surgical and nonsurgical treatments.