What to Expect with Your Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Before your Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Preparation prior to your surgery is vital in the success of your entire experience.

Surgical Clearance:

You’ll need to obtain a surgical clearance from all physicians who are involved in your care. Our office has a specialized clearance form that we will fax to their offices upon scheduling surgery. You will also be given a copy of the form. It is important that you contact your doctors to verify if you will need to be seen in their office prior to your doctor signing your clearance for surgery, or if your doctor is comfortable signing off without seeing you for an appointment.

Lab Work:

You will also need to complete lab work (within 30 days prior to your surgery date) and have a current EKG (within the last 6 months) and chest x-ray (within the last year). Our office will facilitate these orders for you. It is important that these are all completed at the hospital your surgery is scheduled at.

  • St. Mary’s Hospital: You will be directed to call Pre-Admissions at 217-464-5876 and schedule an appointment. At that appointment, all your lab work, EKG and chest x-ray (if necessary) will be completed. Upon arrival to the hospital’s main entrance you will check in with the registration desk to the left of the entrance and they will direct you where you need to go.
  • Decatur Memorial Hospital: NO APPOINTMENT IS NEEDED. You will enter through the registration doors on the west side of the hospital (where the Subway restaurant is located). Stop at the first desk you reach and let them know you are there for pre-surgical lab work and testing. They will direct you to lab and radiology.


There are some medications that you will be instructed to stop prior to your surgery. It is vital that we are aware of ALL prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. If you fail to stop the medications, SURGERY WILL BE CANCELLED. Common medications that are necessary to stop prior to your surgery are NSAIDs, blood thinners, and most herbal supplements. You will be given a list of which medications to stop and when at your surgery scheduling appointment in our office. You will be advised of which medications are safe to take the morning of surgery, as there are some that are not compatible with Anesthesia, and therefore, held the morning of surgery.

Pre-Op Appointment:

Your surgeon would like to see you in clinic for a pre-operative appointment the clinic day prior to surgery. At this appointment, any last-minute questions can be answered, your surgeon will mark the operative area in preparation for surgery, you will be fit for the shoulder immobilizer and you will get confirmed surgery times. All these appointments are conducted before the noon-hour to ensure everything is ready for surgery the following day. You will be given your pre-operative appointment date and time at your surgery scheduling appointment in our office.

Night Before Surgery:

  • Hibiclens Soap: Please ensure you have used this as directed. It is vital in the prevention of post-operative infections. If you have any questions regarding the use of your Hibiclens soap, then please contact our office.
  • NPO: Nothing to eat or drink, smoke or chew after midnight. Non-compliance will result in cancellation of your surgery.


  • Ensure you complete your Blood Type and Crossmatch the day prior to surgery at the hospital surgery will be performed at.
  • Review your Surgery Scheduling Sheet that was given to you from our office at the time of surgery scheduling.
  • If you have any medical forms that your employer is requiring to be filled out by your surgeon, please ensure our office has obtained these. Allow 7-10 days for them to be completed.

After your Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Prepare to live your life to the fullest
  • Follow-up Appointment: 2 weeks post-operative- If this has not already been scheduled, please call the office at 217-864-2665 to make this appointment ASAP.
  • Post-Op Bandage: The bandage over your incision is a Negative Pressure Wound Dressing. You will be instructed to change this bandage at 7 days post-op. If you are uncomfortable doing this, please call the office and schedule an appointment with the nurse for her to change it. Please refer to the Pico Negative Pressure Wound Dressing paper attached to your discharge papers for further questions pertaining to your bandage.
  • Showering: Permitted AFTER 7 days. No soaking, tub baths, or swimming until 6 weeks after your surgery. You will remove the immobilizer to shower. If you are uncomfortable showering without the shoulder support, you can purchase an over-the-counter generic shoulder sling that may be worn while showering. It can then be washed and dried, and the immobilizer placed right back on after your shower. DO NOT apply any lotions, creams or ointments to the incision until 6 weeks after your surgery.
  • Medications: Follow the medication regimen given to you. If you have any questions pertaining to your medications, please call the nurse at the office. If any undesired side effects from the medications, STOP the medication immediately and call the nurse at the office. Pain medications will not be renewed after 6 weeks post-op.
  • Immobilizer: Please remain in the immobilizer at all times unless showering or dressing. The time frame that you will be required to wear the immobilizer may vary. This will be discussed with your surgeon at your 2-week follow-up appointment.
  • Sleeping: You may find it most comfortable to sleep in a recliner due to the immobilizer.
  • When to Call the Office: Contact the office if you notice any signs and symptoms of infection, such as increased incisional drainage, redness, swelling, fever, chills, or increased pain.
  • Weight Bearing: Non-weight bearing to the surgical arm while in the immobilizer.
  • Driving: No driving for a minimum of 2 weeks after your surgery.
  • Numbness: The skin around your incision may be slightly numb, which is NORMAL.
  • Icing: Anytime you are sitting down, apply ice to your shoulder. There is no such thing as too much icing. DO NOT apply the ice directly to your skin. Place a piece of fabric in between the ice and your skin.
  • Therapy: Physical therapy will begin 3 weeks after surgery. No therapy for the first 3 weeks.
  • Return to Work: Your return to work date will be dependent on the type of work you do. It is pertinent that you are no longer taking the narcotic pain medications prior to your return. You can discuss with your surgeon at the 2-week post-op appointment about when you may be able to return to work.
  • Dental: You will need to take an antibiotic 1 hour prior to all dental procedures. An antibiotic is NOT required for routine cleanings.
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