I Have Severe Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder and am Considering a Double Shoulder Replacement. What is Post-Op Like?

Dear Dr. Millett,

I am 72 years old and have severe osteoarthritis in both of my shoulders from years of heavy lifting, golfing, etc. I’m considering a double shoulder replacement surgery and have spent quite a bit of time researching my options. Can you tell me what my recovery time will be like once the joint replacement surgery is completed, how I will feel after, and how long the effects of the surgery will last?


Hi Teresa,

I use an approach known as an anatomic total shoulder replacement surgery. This shoulder replacement surgery is a joint replacement procedure most commonly performed on patients suffering from more advanced arthritic conditions — such as yourself. Most of my patients will feel dramatic improvement, sometimes occurring almost immediately postoperatively. Most patients regain complete use of their arms with the ability to go back to all pre-surgery activities after about three to four months, although most patients find that they are able to lift their arms to about shoulder level within the first few weeks. Patients are allowed as well as encouraged to begin using their shoulders for light activities almost immediately. In order for shoulder replacement surgery to be effective and successful, each patient should adhere to a strict rehabilitation program. The program will consist of strengthening movies, range of motion activities and stretching.

In almost all cases, patients who have double shoulder replacement surgery end up pain-free and typically will completely regain their normal shoulder motion and function. Many patients have bilateral disease (both sides right and left), and I have performed a number of bilateral (double) shoulder replacement surgeries. Typically we do one side first (either the dominant arm or the more painful side) and then come back anywhere from six weeks to four months to do the other side. There is a great patient story on my website about a patient who had a “double shoulder replacement.” Feel free to read more about his experience: Double Shoulder Replacement Surgery Patient.

More information on joint replacement procedures including the anatomic total shoulder replacement can be found on my website.