Shoulder Replacement Surgery

The first surgical operation carried out to treat shoulder fracture was in the 1950s in the United States of America. Since then, the replacement of shoulder joints has been widely adopted as a healthy procedure, with remarkable success stories.

If you wonder how shoulder replacement is done, read on for Dr. Christopher Sforzo and Dr. Christopher Dillingham’s explanation about shoulder replacement surgery. Discover the explanation he made about shoulder replacement surgery, the conditions that require replacement surgery, and how to recover from successful shoulder surgery. Additionally, you can consult our doctors to determine if you are a possible candidate for shoulder replacement surgery.

What Is a Shoulder Replacement and When Should It Be Done?

This is a surgical procedure involving removing damaged shoulder parts and using artificial parts to replace them. Dr. Christopher Sforzo and Dr. Christopher Dillingham carry out shoulder replacement surgery to relieve pain from damaged shoulder joints and restore the shoulder’s mobility and functioning.

The surgery may be a minor procedure involving partial removal of the humerus bone or total replacement of the shoulder socket and ball using reverse implants.

Conditions That Necessitate Shoulder Replacement

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about 53,000 patients undergo shoulder replacement surgery every year in the United States of America. This is due to painful conditions on the shoulder caused by arthritis-related complications. Are you suffering from severe arthritis? Shoulder replacement may be your best treatment option. It may be beneficial to get this treatment done by Dr. Christopher Sforzo and Dr. Christopher Dillingham.

Below are four major conditions that may require shoulder replacement surgery:

Severe Fracture

A severe fracture on your shoulder might require replacement before it’s repaired. When the upper head of the humerus bone is shattered, your doctor may have difficulty fixing and putting  the broken pieces together. Shattering of the shoulder joints may also disrupt normal blood flow to the bone muscles, hence the need for a total replacement. Dr.  Sforzo and Dr. Dillingham associated with Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine have the proficiency to treat your shoulder with required processes. 


This is a degenerative bone disease that causes wear and tear of the shoulder cartilage among people aged 50 or more. Osteoarthritis softens the cartilage, causing the shoulder bones to rub against each other. With time, the bones may become painful or stiff, and your doctor may recommend shoulder replacement therapy as the solution. At Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics,  you will  find experienced doctors who are efficient at doing such surgeries. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This may be due to a hyperactive immune system which may trigger an attack on your joints, causing inflammation and pain. As a result, chronic inflammation can cause stiffness and loss of cartilage. Dr. Sforzo and Dr. Dillingham may recommend replacement surgery to help you find relief. 

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that surround your shoulder joints. If you experience a huge tear of your rotator cuff, you may develop arthritis and infection on the joint cartilage.  Replacement therapy may thus be necessary to give you a new shoulder joint.

If you have severe arthritis, a broken shoulder bone, or degenerative bone disease, then you may consider a replacement procedure. However, before the procedure, consult doctors at Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics to determine if surgery is your best treatment option.

Shoulder Replacement Protocol

Before the surgery, our doctors may prepare you by conducting a physical examination and helping you understand the procedure. Sometimes, the physician may ask you a series of questions regarding your health. To reduce complications, consider asking for clarification before the procedure.

Below are the protocols our doctors follow to conduct a replacement surgery for shoulder pain:

Medical Evaluation

The doctors at Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics may recommend a physical evaluation of your overall health a few weeks before the actual procedure. They may review your medical history and ask if you have any symptoms of illness. In addition, an X-ray or computerized scan may also be carried out to check on the condition of your shoulder before the operation. 


Before the surgical procedure, be sure to inform your physician or orthopedic surgeon at Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics if you take any medications. Some medications may affect your recovery; hence should be stopped before the procedure. Such medications include arthritis medications, blood thinners, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin which may cause excessive bleeding.


Before the operation, you will receive admission into the hospital or surgery center and be taken for anesthetization. General anesthesia may render you unconscious throughout the procedure, while regional anesthesia will keep you awake but make the operation area numb.

The doctors from Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics will then conduct the actual procedure to remove and replace the damaged joint. The procedure involves the following:

  • Accessing the shoulder by separating the pectoral and deltoid muscles
  • Opening the shoulder by cutting the front part of the rotator muscles to manipulate the parts affected by pain or inflammation
  • Removal of the inflammatory or painful shoulder section
  • Inserting the stem, ball, and socket of the artificial shoulder implant
  • Closing and stitching of the front muscles of the rotator cuff
  • Cleaning, stitching and applying a bandage covering over the external surface of the shoulder

A surgical procedure to replace a shoulder may take 2 hours or more, depending on whether it’s a partial or full replacement. After the operation, you will stay for a few hours in a recovery center before being transferred to a hospital room for recovery, unless it can be safely done at an outpatient surgery center, whereby you will be discharged home.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery Rehabilitation

It is advisable to perform a set of rehabilitative exercises after a shoulder replacement procedure. This helps to strengthen the shoulder and facilitate recovery. After surgery, ensure you follow a comprehensive rehabilitation program consisting of both physical therapy and home exercises.

Below are some of the exercises recommended after shoulder surgery:

Elbow Range of Motion

This exercise is important for the prevention of elbow stiffness after prolonged use of a sling. Before you begin this exercise, be sure to remove your sling and keep your hand bent at an angle of 90 degrees.

You then bend and stretch your arm as if you are brushing something in front of you. For effective results, you should conduct the exercise three times each day, with 30 repetitions for each workout.

Grip Strengthening

The grip strengthening exercise is effective in preventing blood clots and working out on your hand muscles. To begin, make a tight fist or grip a rubber ball firmly within your palm and hold it for at least 10 seconds. For effective results, you should perform the exercise three times daily, with 30 repetitions for each workout.

External Rotation

This exercise enhances your shoulder and arm mobility after a successful operation. To achieve this, bend your arm at an angle of 90 degrees. Keep your elbow close to your body, and using the other arm, rotate the forearm in an outward position until your arm points in front of you. For effective results, perform this exercise three times daily while ensuring 30 repetitions for each workout.

Exercising is one of the most important recovery plans after shoulder surgery. Therefore to regain strength, follow our surgeons exercise plan during the first weeks after your surgery.

What To Do After Shoulder Replacement Therapy

Similar to other surgical procedures, shoulder surgery requires care before and after the operation. Thus, you should follow the doctor’s advice on eating habits, medication, and bathing before and after the procedure. Additionally, simple home planning arrangements will help fast-track your recovery.

First, ensure you make all items you’ll need easily accessible. This is because, after your surgery, it would not be easy to access items on raised shelves, cupboards, or kitchen cabinets. After surgery, our doctors will most probably advise you to wear a sling to make sure your arm doesn’t get hurt and heal fast. 

After the surgery, you will require a few weeks’ help on house chores, including bathing, laundry, dressing, and cooking.

What To Avoid After a Shoulder Surgery:

  • Lifting any object heavier than 1 pound within 2 – 4 weeks after surgery
  • Using your arms for support when rising from a bed or chair
  • Taking part in sporting activities or weight lifting
  • Putting your arm in extreme positions such as straightening your arm behind your body within 6 weeks after surgery

Total Shoulder Replacement Risks and Complications

Similar to other surgical procedures, shoulder surgery may have potential risks and complications. However, according to Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the complication rate is less than 5% of the total cases recorded. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about complications when considering surgery for a fractured shoulder bone as our best medical practitioners are here to give you an ultimate shoulder replacement surgery experience. 

Below are some common complications, stated by Dr.’s Sforzo and Dr. Dillingham that may occur after shoulder surgery:


An infection may occur while you are still in the hospital or after discharge. It mostly affects the wound or the area surrounding the prosthesis. Some infections may also occur many years after your discharge from the hospital. Minor infections may require antibiotic treatment, while major infections require surgical intervention.

Anesthetic Reaction

There are health complications associated with anesthesia used for surgical operations. Some may be minor, while others are potentially life-threatening. The risk of anesthetic reaction increases if you are allergic to anesthetic medication, abuse drugs, or have complications in your kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain.

Common anesthetic reactions include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, body itchiness, difficulty in urinating, cold chills, and many more.

Nerve Damage

During surgery, the nerves surrounding your shoulder may be damaged, leading to paralysis. Further, nerve damage can lead to pain, numbness, and general weakness. Minor injuries to the nerves may, however, heal over time. You can connect with doctors at Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics to consult your after-surgery ailments.

Blood Clots

If you stay in the same position for several hours during surgery, it may lead to blood clotting. Blood may clot in the veins, arms, and legs and maybe dangerous if it spreads to the lungs, heart, or brain.

Bottom Line

Shoulder surgery is considered a safe option for relief against shoulder pain and complications. Thus, after the surgery, you can still resume your daily activities without much worry. If you think your condition requires shoulder replacement surgery, do not hesitate to consult us.


How long does it take to recover from a shoulder replacement?

The surgical operation for shoulder replacement takes time to heal. Upon discharge from the hospital, you will wear a sling for 2-4 weeks. For a whole month, you will avoid lifting heavy objects, pushing, or pulling. You need at least 4-6 months to recover fully from the operation and to perform rigorous activities such as golfing.

How painful is a shoulder replacement?

Like in other operations, shoulder replacement is a major surgical procedure; hence you’ll feel some pain afterward. Our doctor may administer oral medications to help alleviate pain.

What is the success rate of shoulder replacement surgery?

Most patients receive satisfactory relief after the procedure, characterized by less pain, enhanced strength, and range of motion. According to research by the University of California South Francisco, 90% of patients who undergo a full shoulder replacement have a 10-year survival rate.

What are the symptoms that may require a shoulder replacement?

If you are wondering whether shoulder replacement surgery is for you, then watch out for the following symptoms:

  • A severe pain on your shoulders that hinders you from performing daily chores
  • General weakness or loss of ability to move your shoulders
  • A severe pain whenever you are resting
  • If you fail to see substantial relief after shoulder pain medications or therapy

Focusing On You

As healthcare is ever changing, Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, is doing things differently…

  • About Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand and upper extremity surgery. He provides expert care in the treatment of problems involving the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. He performs many procedures using mini
  • About Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand, shoulder, and arm surgery. He specializes in the treatment of problems with rotator cuff disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injury, joint replacement, arthritis sur
  • About Charles E. Stewart, M.D. Charles E. Stewart M.D. is a board-certified, Johns Hopkins fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult complex reconstruction of the lower extremity.  His specialties include lower extremity sports injuries, meniscal injuries, ACL reconstruction, partial knee replacement,
  • About Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained spine surgeon. He specializes in adult spinal surgeries including reconstruction of spinal deformities, minimally invasive/microscopic spinal procedures, decompression, spinal instrumentation, fusion



After tearing my rotator cuff, not only was I experiencing pain but my quality of life was diminished. Playing golf and working out were painful rather than enjoyable. Graci and I sought out Fellowship trained Dr. Christopher Sforzo and the team at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine. I was treated non-surgically and am now pain free, mobile and enjoying everything I did before.

- Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy

As avid golfers and tennis enthusiasts, our rotator cuff injuries left us in pain, and unable to enjoy our sport. In researching for the most qualified surgeons, we found that Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine not only had the highest level of training and experience, but they were also highly recommended by friends and associates who had excellent results. We, too, had outstanding…

- Mike Wilton, Bud Polley and Arnie Vance

I was visiting the area looking at property and considering a full time re-location from Minnesota when I was in a traffic accident. The result was a very painful shoulder injury that would ultimately require bilateral RTC repairs. I was unable to undertake regular day-to-day activities or participate in my favorite sport – tennis. It was essential that I choose a shoulder specialist that could quickly set…

- Pat Cooper

Over the years we had seen several orthopedists in town but were never impressed. They seemed to lack knowledge or compassion or both. Then when Liza was in high school, she went to Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine for a minor sports injury. They not only diagnosed her somewhat obscure problem, but explained things in a way that she understood without being patronizing…

- Liza, John and Betsy Kane-Hartnett

As a very busy business owner in Sarasota, having not one, but two, massive rotator cuff tears had a debilitating effect on both my personal and professional life. From my first consultation with Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, I knew I was in good hands. The surgeons are board-certified and fellowship-trained, which gave me the confidence in achieving a successful outcome. More importantly,…

- Bob Kirschner

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