St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Using your shoulder after replacement surgery

    Joint replacement surgery - using your shoulder; Shoulder replacement surgery - after

    You have had shoulder replacement surgery to replace the bones of your shoulder joint with artificial 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.

    Now that you are home you will need to know how to protect your shoulder as it heals.


    You willneed to weara sling for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You maywant to wear the sling for extra support or protection after that. Some people also wear a shoulder immobilizer to keep the joint in place.

    Rest your shoulder ona rolled up towel or small pillow when lying down. This helps prevent damage to your shoulder from the stretching of the muscles or tendons. You will need to keep doing this for 6-8 weeks after your surgery, even when wearing a sling.

    Your doctor or physical therapist may teach you pendulum exercises to do at home for 4-6 weeks. To do these exercises:

    • Lean over and support your weight with your good arm on a counter or table.
    • Hang your arm that had surgery down.
    • Very carefully and slowly swing your loose arm around in circles.

    Your doctor or physical therapist will also teach you safe ways to move your arm and shoulder.

    • Do not try to lift or move your shoulder without supporting it with your good arm or having someone else support it. Your doctor or therapist will tell you when it is okay to lift or move your shoulder without this support.
    • Use your other (good) arm to move the arm that had surgery. Move it only as far as your doctor or physical therapist tells you is okay.

    These exercises and movements may hard but they will get easier over time. It is very important to do these as your doctor or therapist showed you. Doing these exercises will help your shoulder get better faster. They will help you be more actives after you recover.

    Activities and movements you should try to avoid are:

    • Reaching or using your shoulder a lot
    • Liftingobjects heavier than a cup of coffee
    • Supporting your body weight with your hand on the side you had surgery
    • Making sudden jerking movements

    Wear the sling all the time unless your doctor says you do not have to.

    After 4-6 weeks, your doctor or physical therapist will show you other exercises to stretch your shoulder and gain more movement in your joint.

    Returning to sports and other activities

    Ask your doctor which sports and other activities are okay for you after you recover.

    Always think about how to safely use your shoulder before you move or start an activity. To protect your new shoulder:

    • Avoid activities that require doing the same movement over and over again with your shoulder, such as weight lifting.
    • Avoid "jamming" activities, such as hammering.
    • Avoid "impact-loading" sports, such as boxing.
    • Avoid any physical activities that need quick stop-start motions or twisting.
    • Do not push heavy objects.

    You will probably not be able to drive for at least4-6 weeks after surgery. You should not drive when you are taking narcotics. Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when driving is okay.

    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
    • Fever 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.


    Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplasty. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12thth ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 12.


          A Closer Look

          Talking to your MD

            Self Care

            Tests for Using your shoulder after replacement surgery

              Review Date: 11/15/2012

              Reviewed By: 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.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

              A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

              Back  |  Top
              About Us
              Contact Us
              Locations & Directions
              Quality Reports
              Annual Reports
              Honors & Awards
              Community Health Needs

              Brain & Spine
              Sleep Medicine
              Urgent Care
              Women's Services
              All Services
              Patients & Visitors
              Locations & Directions
              Find a Physician
              Tour St. Luke's
              Patient & Visitor Information
              Contact Us
              Payment Options
              Financial Assistance
              Send a Card
              Mammogram Appointments
              Health Tools
              My Personal Health
              Spirit of Women
              Health Information & Tools
              Clinical Trials
              Employer Programs -
              Passport to Wellness

              Classes & Events
              Classes & Events
              Spirit of Women
              Donate & Volunteer
              Giving Opportunities
              Physicians & Employees
              For Physicians
              Remote Access
              Medical Residency Information
              Pharmacy Residency Information
              Physician CPOE Training
              St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
              Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile