Reverse shoulder replacement is a complex procedure done on individuals with severe pain from rotator cuff injuries and shoulder arthritis. The procedure works by removing the damaged parts of the shoulder and replacing them with artificial parts installed in the opposite configuration: the glenoid receives the ball, and the humorous receives the new socket.
Like any replacement procedure, the healing and recovery after reverse shoulder replacement is gradual and requires time.
Let’s discuss the factors affecting recovery from reverse shoulder replacement surgery and a general recovery timeline following reverse prosthesis.
Factors That Affect Recovery Timeline for Shoulder Replacement Surgery
The recovery period after a reverse shoulder replacement surgery depends on various factors. For instance, the recovery timeline depends on whether the reverse prosthesis is your first time getting a replacement shoulder or if it is a “re-do” surgery to fix an old replacement that is not working well anymore. Generally, recovering the full function of your shoulder takes longer after revision surgerythan after the primary (first-time) shoulder replacement.
Moreover, the recovery timeline also depends on whether the shoulder surgeon used a bone graft in the areas where the bone is damaged or missing. Bone grafts take longer to integrate and heal, thus extending recovery time.
Recovery Timeline and Milestones Following Reverse Shoulder Replacement
After reverse shoulder replacement surgery, you can expect the following.
Immediately After Surgery
Immediately after the surgery, you will be moved to the recovery room, where you will be continuously monitored. Once the effect of anesthesia (nerve block) wears off, you will likely feel pain. You will be given prescription painkillers and prescribed two to three different types of painkillers to take back home.
You will be advised to take painkillers for two to three days and then try to reduce the number of painkillers you take.
Day 1 to Week 6
You will be advised to use a sling for 6 weeks after surgery, even at night. You must not let your elbow drop behind you to prevent shoulder dislocation. Your pain might get worse at night, so don’t forget to use ice and take your pain medications.
Normal showering is possible because your wound will be covered with a waterproof dressing. Your first post-op appointment will likely be in week 2, during which your dressing will be removed, and your wound will be checked for any signs of infection. Your orthopedic surgeon will advise you not to lift anything or perform overhead work.
Your physical therapist will advise you to perform the following exercises during these six weeks:
- Bend and straighten the elbow.
- Passive shoulder flexion
- Hand squeeze
- Neck stretch
- Passive pendulum
- Passive external rotation
Week 6 to 12
During this stage, you can stop wearing the sling, lift up to 1kg to your waist, and drive if you can lift your arms shoulder-high.You might also be able to use your arm for light daily tasks.
During this time, you should avoid moving your arm out of the side and twisting it behind you. You should also avoid pushing down on your operated arm to get out of the chair.
Your second appointment will be around weeks 8 to 10,during which your doctor will evaluate your progress.
After your second post-op appointment, perform exercises, such as flexion stretch, active-supported external rotation, external-internal rotation, shoulder flexion, shoulder extension, and back towel stretch. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles of your shoulder and improve your shoulder movement.
After 12 weeks
At this phase, you can start doing more vigorous stretches to help your arm prepare for the activities you want to do after complete recovery. You can also commence light lifting gradually up to five to 10 kg and start occasional overhead work of less than 15 minutes duration. You should also be able to play golf, tennis, badminton, or squash after four to six months.
You may be able to return to your full functioning and duties at six to nine months, but the strength and movement can continue to improve for up to two years after the procedure.
Reverse Shoulder Replacement Recovery in Port Charlotte, FL
Reverse shoulder replacement surgeries are highly effective at relieving pain and improving the mobility of the shoulder joint. If you’re in search of a skilled shoulder replacement surgeon who has performed hundreds of shoulder replacement procedures with successful outcomes, visit us here at Advanced Orthopedic Center. Our shoulder surgeon, Dr. Nicholas, regularly performs replacement surgeries, including reverse shoulder replacement surgery, with excellent outcomes and shorter recovery.