Post operative reverse replacement shoulder



Having had this operation in October 2023 which was very successful although the recovery has taken its time. However the last month or so I'm finding my arm now aches from the shoulder to a bit further down.

Would you know if this is just a healing process which will ease with time?

Would more specific exercises help?

Thank you,



  • Anna
    Anna Moderator Posts: 971

    Hi @Booie and welcome to the online community,

    Several of our members have had reverse replacement shoulder surgery, and one, @lindalegs, has posted useful updates about her progress. Have a look at the thread below, you might find the answer to your question here. Perhaps other members will also share their experiences. As @lindalegs says in her post though, everyone heals differently and at different rates.

    You also might find the following information useful. It discusses replacement shoulder surgery and how you can look after your new joint.

    Best wishes,

    Anna( Moderator)

    Need more help? - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • helpline_team

    Hi @Booie

    Thank you for posting on the Online Community. I hope you found Anna's response helpful. It is really good to hear that your reverse shoulder replacement has been successful although your recovery has taken its time. I am sorry to hear that you are now experiencing more aching in your shoulder and arm. It is understandable that you have questions about the recovery process.

    It is still less than 6 months since your surgery and the healing process is ongoing. Any pain or aching would usually ease over time. You are gradually becoming more active again and using your arm increasingly for daily tasks and activities. It can be a fine balance between regaining functional movement and pacing yourself so that you don't overdo it. Balancing activity with rest is important as well as doing the right exercises. You may find our Let's Move for Surgery Toolkit helpful.

    We would suggest you continue to follow the advice you have been given by your healthcare team. It may help to talk things through with your GP who could refer you to more physiotherapy if this might help. I'm wondering if you have an orthopaedic follow-up appointment scheduled? This would be an ideal time to talk about your concerns. Your GP may be able to expedite this if needed.

    Posting on our Living with Arthritis forum may generate more responses. You are also welcome to call our Free Helpline on 0800 5200 520 weekdays 9am - 6pm if you would like to talk things through informally and in confidence.

    I hope you find the information given below of some help.

    Please keep posting and let us know how you are getting on and I am sure that others will connect with you to share their support and experience as well.

    Best wishes,

    Fiona, Helpline Advisor

  • crinkly
    crinkly Member Posts: 148

    Hello Boo.

    I have OA and had a RTSR in October 2019. I had done as much research as possible prior to the surgery so was aware that recovery would be slow. I was fortunate to be under the care of a specialist Physiotherapist for a year and to receive 8 weeks hydrotherapy as part of my rehab programme.

    It's now more than three years since my shoulder joint was replaced and I too am pleased with the outcome which is a big improvement on the pre-op state of affairs. Consequently I am not worried by the fact that the shoulder and arm still ache if I have done more than it can tolerate (eg driving too far without a break or forgetting about lifting limits) and in cold weather. I cannot sleep on the repaired shoulder either and will probably take pain relief at night for the rest of my life.

    On the plus side I can drive, ride an E-bike, do most household tasks, lift and carry items within a weight limit and generally live an active and fulfilling life. I consider that I have adapted well to the shoulder's limitations and find that everyday tasks provide sufficient exercise to maintain the range of movement that I have achieved. When the shoulder is particularly achey I sit with the arm supported on a chair arm, make myself as comfortable as possible in bed with the support of an extra pillow or occasionally resort to resting the shoulder in a sling for a few hours.

    As Anna and Fiona explain above this is a complex and remarkably skilled operation that we are lucky to have undergone and full healing takes a very long time - up to 18 months with small improvements occuring after that. They are right in stating that the best advice is to take heed of your own body's responses and pace yourself accordingly. Too much exercise is as damaging as too little. We are all different but our body structure has been altered and we can all expect some long-term limitations and intermittent discomfort. Experiment by noting times when rest is best versus times when exercise provides relief.

    Like Lindalegs (who has RA) there is a thread on this forum outlining my recovery. To bring up either of these accounts click the search symbol box at the top of this page and put our names into the drop-down box.

    Best wishes 😊

  • lindalegs
    lindalegs Member Posts: 5,393

    Hello @Booie

    I agree with what the others have said, it is still early days.

    As you've had a reverse procedure, you're now using a different set of muscles to move your arm and these need to strengthen. Before surgery your upward arm movement was controlled by your rotator cuff and now it's the deltoid. My physio told me that when muscles ache it's telling them they need to strengthen, hence all the exercises you've been given.

    A word of caution is don't overdo the exercises because rest is just as important, as Crinkly said above. (I was told this by my physios when I was overdoing the exercises.)

    I was able to sleep on my shoulder replacement as soon as my physios said it would be okay to try and I don't get any pain from my new shoulder at all. If you are worried about your aching arm, I would have a word with your physiotherapist to put your mind at rest.

    Hope this helps.

    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'