You had shoulder replacement surgery to replace the bones of your shoulder joint with artificial joint parts. The parts include a stem made of metal and a metal ball that fits on the top of the stem. A plastic piece is used as the new surface of the shoulder blade.
You received pain medicine. You also learned how to manage swelling around your new joint.
What to Expect at Home
Your shoulder area may feel warm and tender for 2-4 weeks. The swelling should go down during this time.
You will need help with daily tasks such as driving, shopping, bathing, making meals, and housework for up to 6 weeks.
You will need to wear a sling for the first 6 weeks after surgery. Rest your shoulder on a rolled up towel or small pillow when lying down.
Your doctor or physical therapist may teach you pendulum exercises to do at home for 4-6 weeks. You will also learn safe ways to move and use your shoulder.
Ask your doctor about which sports and other activities are okay for you after you recover. You may not be able to drive for at least 4 weeks. Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when it is okay.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it will allow your pain to get worse than it should.
Narcotic pain medicine (codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone) can make you constipated. If you are taking them, drink plenty of fluids, and eat fruits and vegetables and other high-fiber foods to help keep your stools loose.
Do not drink alcohol or drive if you are taking these pain medicines.
Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other anti-inflammatory drugs with your prescription pain drugs may also help. Ask your doctor about using them. Your doctor may also give you aspirin to prevent blood clots. Stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines if you take aspirin.
Sutures (stitches) or staples will be removed about 1-2 weeks after surgery.
Keep the dressing (bandage) over your wound clean and dry. You may change the dressing every day if you like.
Do not shower until after your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when you can begin taking showers. When you do, let the water run over the incision. Do NOT scrub.
Do not soak your wound in the bath tub or a hot tub for at least the first 3 weeks.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
Bleeding that soaks through your dressing and does not stop when you place pressure over the area
Pain that does not go away when you take your pain medicine
Swelling in your arm
Redness, pain, swelling, or a yellowish discharge from the wound
Temperature higher than 101 °F
Also call the doctor if:
Your hand or fingers are darker in color or feel cool to the touch.
Your new shoulder joint does not feel secure. It feels like it is moving around.
Glenohumeral arthritis and its management. In: Rockwood CA Jr, Matsen FA III, Wirth MA, Lippitt SB, Clinton J, eds. The Shoulder. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 22.
C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.