Reverse Shoulder Replacement Kathy's Recovery


new member
Jan 19, 2019
United States United States
I had a Reverse Shoulder Replacement on Sept. 13th, 2022. I must say, I was a little more anxious about this than either my hip and knee replacement and was not too sure how much I would be able to do after the surgery thinking I would be minus a useful hand for quite some time. I live alone with a cat and a 67 pound dog so I tried to get myself as prepared as possible. I stayed at a friend's for a week as well as a house and dog sitter so the first week was taken care of. I bought several large snap tops that would be easy to get into and out of, as well as good for doctor' appointments and PT. Also bought a one hand electric can opener, already had lots of scrub bottoms (very easy to get into--my favorite summer pant even though I am not a nurse) and cooked and froze many meals and soups. I arranged for the young neighbor kids to help me as needed, and a friend to walk my dog every day. I also bought a rather expensive zero gravity wedge pillow set so I could sleep on an incline. Ok--I am ready for what I thought would be a long tedious effort to live by myself during the recovery.

The day of the surgery I was due at the hospital at 8, I was in the operating room by 10 and out an hour later, in recovery for I think an hour or so before I woke up and out the door by 1:30. In fact, they sent me home in a hospital gown, didn't even allow me to change into my specially purchased clothes. I never even got to talk to the doctor, although my friend who accompanied me, did. The anesthesiologist had told me I was getting a long lasting nerve block that could last 3 days--oh goodie--when my one for my TKR wore off after 18 hours it was agony. Nerve block only lasted until 4am and I was in agony again. Called doctor to see if I should start pain pills he had prescribed (stupid question but was expecting not to need them so soon, and I thought he had only prescribed 10). He said yes, but they did no good so called 4 hours later and he told me to take two every other time. The 2 did the trick and then I realized he had prescribed 20 so I took 2 every 6 hours and that did the trick or 2 ays. On Friday I cut back to one pill every 6 hours except that night took two. Did call and ask for a refill but never heard back from Dr.'s office and never got the refill. I was mad--but turned out I didn't need a refill. It's Saturday, now conserving pills, and I wasn't going to take one unless I really needed it and went all day with no pain pills except for one dose of OTC ibuprofen and acetametaphen. Took one pain pill before bed and then no more--still have 3 left. Couldn't believe it--I am not even taking OTC pain meds as I am virtually pain free.

Had my first followup Dr.'s appointment today and had the staples removed and steristrips applied. Everyone remarked how nice the incision looked--no redness (never was) and no bruising, just some minor swelling of the arm. I was told I can drive if I feel comfortable for short distances and start PT on Monday--9 days out including surgery day. I came home, made supper, unpacked, fed the dog, took a shower and am now writing this. I have much more use of my left hand than I thought I would. I also am allowed to sleep on my right side without a sling hugging a pillow to support my arm. Sleeping on my back is is keeping me awake as I am normally a stomach sleeper. Back pain is now a much bigger problem than shoulder pain. I hope the rest of my shoulder journey is as good as the first part. I am one happy camper at this point!
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@kspach Congratulations on your new shoulder! It is wonderful to hear you are home and doing well.
@kspach congratulatins on your new shoulder. Sounds like you are doing great. I wondered how people alone could handle it. I am shocked that you got to drive so fast. My doc made me wait for six weeks. That is where I am glad my husband was there for me as he drove me to town many times as my 98 year old mom started to decline and passed away. I am at 12 weeks and working on getting more strength now. Be careful and take care of that new shoulder.
@kspach Welcome to the other side of surgery! Sounds like you are doing very well.

Try putting a small pillow under your knees when you are back sleeping. It takes some of the pressure off the lower back.

Easy does it!
I actually bought a whole wedge set for sleeping which includes formations that raise the knees/legs. With both a knee and hip replacement under my belt I know how important that is. Not sure why my back is bothering me this time but I hate sleeping on my back. Doc said I can sleep on my good side which is helping, although the arm isn't always that comfortable.
Debbie-- I practiced driving one handed for about a month before I had the surgery to see if I could do it. Not going on any long road trips or doing any complicated freeway or interstate driving, but the doctor said I could drive locally as long as I feel comfortable and off prescription pain meds.
The hardest part of driving for me was getting the seatbelt on and off. I had a rotator cuff repair, so I was in the huge bolster sling for 6 weeks. I finally figured things out about the 4 week point (surgeon said he usually tells people 6 weeks but I could do earlier if not on meds and felt I could do safely).

How is PT and the rest of recovery going now?
I purchased an ice machine when I had my first joint replacement which I love, and then purchased new pads for the next two replacements. With my recent shoulder replacement I found it hard to use because it was difficult to detach and reattach the tubes if you need to get up to move away from the machine with one hand. I live by myself so there is no one to help. I also had purchased a CryoMax shoulder ice pack which I really have appreciated. It stays cold for up to eight hours and one can be mobile while using it. You can purchase it on Amazon but is cheaper if you order off the company website where you can also order an extra cover which I use when I first take it out of the freezer. I purchased two which was good because I stayed with a friend for the first week after surgery and her freezer wasn't set very low and so it didn't last the full eight hours. I keep my freezer at -2% F so it does stay cold for a very long time. It is not difficult to strap on by myself. I had purchase two rectangular ones when I had my knee surgery that I used at night prior to my shoulder surgery for the pain.


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SaraK-- The seatbelt was a problem for me even before my surgery. After thinking about how I could solve the problem I remembered one of the tools I had with my hip replacement to help getting dressed and now have that in my car to help grab the seat belt. It works perfectly. I can grab the seatbelt with the large hook end and bring it to where I can grab it--also good for hooking and closing the door.
That's a great idea! It was probably just as well that I didn't have one of those to use - I'd have been tempted to drive much earlier.
@kspach ... congratulations on your new shoulder! It sounds like you're doing really well with recovery. I hope that continues. Just be sure to listen to your body and take things slow if you start getting any pain from activity with the shoulder. With mine, I just increased my activity gradually and had no problems getting back to pretty much normal. The only thing I continue to have difficulty with is reaching behind my back with that arm. It's still a little stiff with that motion. But, in all honesty, that's not a big deal for me and I never worked too hard on trying to stretch out all the soft tissue to make the movement easier. I can do everything else just fine with the shoulder.
I am really surprised at how well I am doing. From what I have read, I just assumed I would never be able to reach behind my back again. Last week I started back volunteering at a nature center doing student field trips including an hour hike at the end of the program and that is going well. My biggest problem is some pain at night in the shoulder and getting into a comfortable position. I am a stomach and side sleeper. My right shoulder is also arthritic so both shoulders hurt at night. Hoping I can sleep comfortably on my new shoulder soon. Neither hurt very much during the day. Other than that I am very happy with my recovery. I hope I can tolerate the right shoulder pain as living alone and replacing my dominate shoulder would not be a whole different story.
If you're uncomfortable at night, try taking either 500 or 1000mg of Tylenol at bedtime. It can really made a difference in how you sleep. It will last around 6 hours, so if you wake up hurting during the night, you can take a second dose after 4 hours.
Unfortunately, Tylenol does nothing for me. I mainly use an icepack. Tonight I will use 2 icepacks--one for each shoulder to see if that will help.
When you have tried Tylenol and it didn't work, were you taking 1000mg as the dose? Many people don't realize they may need the full dose to make it work. You can also take the 1000mg with an NSAID (like Advil or Aleve) and the combination of the two may work more effectively. Be sure you don't have any stomach problems that could be aggravated with the NSAID.
Yes, I take 1,000 mg. I am not supposed to take NSAIDS because of the blood pressure medication I am on. If the pain is bad enough I do take Ibuprofen every once in a while or the dual action one that contains acetaminophen.
That's good. Just be sure if pain is a persistent problem to take the 1000mg dose on a schedule (usually every 6 hours through the day and night) so that your system always has the medication available. It works better this way than taking it once the pain starts or gets worse. Then you're playing catch up and it is actually more difficult to keep pain under control.

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