FAQ Shoulder Replacement




1. How long does the surgery take?

The surgery usually takes about 1-2 hours. The process of checking into surgery, having your surgery, and observation in the recovery room typically takes 4-5 hours.

2. How long will I be in the hospital?

Patients usually stay 2 days in the hospital, with most patients staying 1-3 days.

3. How long do I have to wear a sling?

You must wear your sling except for showering or exercises for the first 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, you can just use the sling as needed for comfort.

4. When will I return to the office after surgery?

You should make a post op appointment for 3 weeks after surgery to see Dr. Burns.

5. Do I need to sleep in my sling?

Yes. Most patients will find it more comfortable to sleep in a sling for the first few weeks, and some prefer to sleep propped up in a recliner. You do not have to sleep in a sling after 3 weeks.

6. When can I drive?

Most patients will begin to drive after their first postoperative visit, 3 weeks after surgery. You may drive as soon as you feel comfortable controlling a car. For most patients this is between 3 and 6 weeks.

7. When can I take a shower?

Most patients take a shower 2 days after their surgery. You may leave the dressing in place, as it is waterproof.

8. Will I need therapy after surgery?

Yes, a physical therapist will see you in the hospital and get you started on your exercises. When you go home, a different physical therapist will come to your house and help you with the exercises for the first 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, most patients go to an outpatient physical therapy clinic.

9. What if I live alone, or don’t feel able to go home after the surgery?

Most patients, even those who live alone, will be able to function at home after shoulder replacement. If you believe you will need additional care at a rehab center or a skilled facility, you can let your Dr. Burns know. However, these arrangements cannot be made ahead of time. Once you are admitted to the hospital, the team of social workers, nurses, and Dr. Burns will work to ensure you are appropriately placed.

10. Can I still have a shoulder replacement if I use my arms to weight bear on a walker, cane or other supportive device?

Yes, you can still have a shoulder replacement but it is important to protect your new shoulder from weightbearing for 3 weeks after it is replaced. This allows the new parts time to heal, and your muscles and tendons around the shoulder some time to regain strength and function. The physical therapists will work with you to try alternative devices to support yourself. In some cases, a stay in rehabilitation or a skilled nursing facility is necessary to protect your new shoulder for 3-4 weeks.

11. What is the difference between anatomic and reverse shoulder replacement?

These are both full ball and socket replacements, but the location of the ball and socket are different. See below.

Video on the difference between anatomic and reverse.