Shoulder Replacement

Total Shoulder and Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement is often considered when the pain in the shoulder becomes so severe that it begins to interfere with your sleep and your ability to carry out activities of daily living; such as working or sports. The hope is that surgery will:

  • End or reduce your pain, 
  • Improve your shoulder movement and overall function, and 
  • Improve your quality of life.

In shoulder replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components, called a prosthesis. There are two types of total shoulder replacements:

  1. Standard (or Anatomical) Total Shoulder Replacement: This surgery replaces the ball at the top of your arm (humerus) with a metal ball, which gets attached to the remaining bone. The socket gets covered with a new plastic surface.
  2. Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement: This surgery attaches a metal ball to your shoulder bone (socket) and a socket is implanted at the top of your arm.

Total Shoulder and Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery Booklet 

What to Expect

You will receive a copy of the book, Total Shoulder and Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery. This book provides detailed information to help you prepare for your surgery. 

How to Prepare 

Along with reading the joint replacement education booklet, please also watch the pre-operative education video provided on this webpage for the joint replacement surgery you are having. The education booklet and video will go over how to prepare for surgery, what to expect while in hospital, and what to expect on discharge from the hospital.

In addition, please consider where you would like to attend physiotherapy following your joint replacement surgery.

Please contact the Rehabilitation Therapy Department at (519) 464-4400 ext. 8100 once you have completed this education with any questions that you might have and to indicate where you would like to receive physiotherapy. For those who choose to return to Bluewater Health for physiotherapy in Sarnia or Petrolia you will be provided an appointment date for therapy prior to or following your surgery.  

Some key things to consider in preparation for surgery include:

  • Ask a family member or friend to be your “Coach”.
  • Exercise three to five times per week, and if needed, quit smoking, and practice healthy eating to prepare yourself for your best possible experience.
  • Check your house for any tripping hazards, like area rugs.
  • Organize delivery of any equipment you may need to help you get around the first few days.

Physiotherapy Providers

Click here for a list of physiotherapy providers in Sarnia-Lambton. If you reside outside Sarnia-Lambton, please visit to search for a provider near you. Click your local health region, or search by city or postal code. Under Health Topics, click Rehabilitative Care, then Physiotherapists.

During the Procedure

  • Arrive 2-3 hours before your procedure (the exact time will be outlined by your surgeons offices).
  • The standard surgery takes approximately 2 hours, and most patients are done in the recovery room and into their room on the surgical unit in 4-6 hours from time of surgery.

Recovery – What to Expect

  • Depending on the type of procedure and how you recover, you should expect to be discharged from the hospital the day of your surgery or the next day by 10:00 am.
  • Nursing staff will get you up and walking about four to six hours after your surgery.
  • Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy will see you after surgery day one before discharge.
  • For a standard shoulder replacement, most patients continue with physiotherapy after discharge from the hospital 1-2 times per week for approximately 8-12 weeks on average.
  • Reverse shoulder replacements do their own home program for the first 6 weeks, and start outpatient physiotherapy at week 6 for 1-2 visits per week for 12 weeks, working towards achieving functional goals.
  • Many patients will return to work and regular activities within 12 weeks.

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Bluewater Health’s programs and services are distributed across two locations, Bluewater Health in Sarnia and Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital of Bluewater Health in Petrolia. 

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