As in a knee replacement, an orthopedic surgeon replaces the ends of the shoulder bones - humerus and scapula - with prosthetic caps. The caps are either made of metal or plastic, and the remaining parts of the shoulder joint are cemented back into place.
When shoulder pain and loss of function and mobility are serious and when medications or additional therapies are not relieving the pain, the doctor will recommend shoulder replacement. The doctor will perform X-rays to view the bones and cartilage to identify whether they are damaged, if there is a fracture, or if there are any other possible issues which could make surgery a poor choice.
For the first 24 hours following surgery, intravenous (IV) antibiotics will be provided. Patients will also receive medications to lessen pain and, in some cases, medications which stop blood clots. Patients are bandaged around the shoulder and a drain for any excess fluid is temporarily inserted. A compression sleeve on the arm may also be used as well. A physical therapist can begin gentle exercises the same day or the day after. These exercises are passive in the early days of recovery where patients relax and the therapist moves the arm for them.
The average stay is from 1-3 days. One of the key features of staying in the hospital is post-operative physical therapy where you are taught how to use your arm and new shoulder and you are given time to practice everyday tasks. Each patient is discharged with an arm sling which they wear for 6 weeks or more. Total recovery can take 6 months or longer, with a focus on restorative physical therapy for at least the last 3 months.