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Shoulder Replacement at Hartford Hospital

Beyond advanced care for your joints

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What is shoulder replacement?
Shoulder replacement is a reconstructive surgery used to relieve pain caused by fractures, arthritis and rotator cuff injuries. During surgery, the worn shoulder joint is replaced with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic. 

Am I a candidate?
If you are in relatively good health (other than your damaged shoulder joint) you may be a candidate for shoulder replacement. You’ll undergo a thorough evaluation prior to surgery. There is no age limit for the procedure. 

How long does it last?
As with all joint replacements, it varies from patient to patient. Most people can expect their new shoulder joint to last between 10 and 15 years, although younger patients and those who put a great deal of stress on the joint may eventually need a second surgery. If you are older than 60 when you have joint replacement surgery, the artificial joint may last the rest of your life. 

What are the complications?
As with any surgery, infection can arise from shoulder replacement surgery. Hartford Hospital’s surgical team takes extreme measures to reduce the likelihood of this complication, including using prophylactic antibiotics, sterilized “space suits” and ensuring that our operating theaters are pristine, with strict attention to sterilization and cleanliness. Your doctor will discuss other risks with you as well, such as rare but potential shoulder stiffness, instability and nerve damage. 

How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
Two to three days.

What will rehab and recovery be like?
You can expect much of your strength and range of motion to return within three months after shoulder replacement. Full recovery will take about a year. You’ll likely begin physical therapy as early as the day after your surgery, when you’ll work with a physical therapist to regain range of motion and strength in your shoulder. Be prepared to wear a sling for the first several weeks after surgery. You’ll be able to feed and dress yourself within two weeks, but in the meantime, you’ll need help from a family member or friend.

What are my physical limitations after surgery?
You will most likely be able to return to activities such as swimming, golf and tennis six months after your surgery. Long term, your doctor will likely advise you to avoid activities like contact sports or weightlifting, which may increase the chance of a rotator cuff tear, loosening, wear or fracture. Talk to your doctor about your expectations prior to surgery.