The 23-Hour Shoulder Joint Replacement

Shoulder replacements are becoming quite commonplace these days. Not only is it the third most often replaced joint, but with specialized training for orthopedic shoulder surgeons coupled with advanced technology, shoulder surgeries can now take place over a few hours and then qualifying patients can go home the next day.

This type of shoulder surgery has been performed safely for years in larger metropolitan areas. It’s becoming the new norm and this current trend for, essentially, a same-day shoulder surgery, is replacing the old of way of doing things.

“Having a shoulder replacement surgery once meant a prolonged hospital stay, lots of rehabilitation, and weeks in a cumbersome shoulder support sling,” says Nathan Richardson, MD, the region’s leading shoulder surgeon with Bingham Memorial’s Orthopedic Institute. He is fellowship trained in shoulder and elbow surgery, and uses the most advanced computer technology for his surgeries.

“Improvements in technology and surgical techniques have given me the ability to perform shoulder joint replacements with greater accuracy and precision,” explains Dr. Richardson. “Using virtual 3D planning technology, I am able to create each patient’s surgical plan pre-operatively, before the patient even enters the operating room. Every surgery is customized to the meet the needs of each patient, which makes them more minimally invasive and results in smaller incisions, causing less muscle injury and soft tissue damage.”

Typically, Dr. Richardson performs a shoulder surgery in the early afternoon. During surgery, he administers a pain-blocking medicine into the site of the operation, which will last for three days, so there is tolerable pain. The next day, a physical therapist reviews shoulder precautions with patients, teaches them techniques to get in and out of bed safely, and how to properly put on and take off a shoulder support sling. Dr. Richardson meets with patients to assess how they’re doing. And, the good news: if all goes well, patients are likely to be discharged to go home after lunch.

“Patients actually thrive in the comfort of their own home,” says Dr. Richardson. “The recovery is faster, the rehab quicker, and the satisfaction greater. Being at home has a feeling of safety and security because it’s familiar, easier to navigate and less disorienting, and they’re surrounded by family members. Patients who can go home from the hospital sooner ultimately sleep better, too. They’re more comfortable in their own bedrooms, and they’re not disturbed throughout the night by nursing staff.”

The No. 1 thing patients worry about is how much pain they’re going to be in after the surgery. Dr. Richardson provides his patients with the most effective and innovative pain management so they’ll be comfortable and can focus their energy on rehabilitation and healing. And, while most family members are anxious about being able to provide their loved ones with adequate care so they’re kept safe, Dr. Richardson tells them that even though they’re at home, they’re never alone. With Bingham Memorial’s extensive orthopedic team, patients and family members will always have access to a caring and compassionate nursing staff and home-health solutions.

While a 23-hour joint replacement has its advantages, don’t expect to fully resume your normal daily activities within a week or two after surgery. Healing takes time and patience. The damage to your joint happened over time; recovery and healing will take time as well.

It should be noted that depending on the circumstances, not everyone would qualify for a 23-hour shoulder replacement, though. “I recommend this surgery for patients of all ages, but my decision is ultimately based on the overall health of a patient,” says Dr. Richardson.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer this shoulder replacement surgery option to the patients of Eastern Idaho,” says Dr. Richardson. “If you’re struggling with on-going shoulder pain or have been told you need a shoulder replacement, but have been putting it off, please schedule an appointment with me to find out if you qualify for this type of surgery.”

Meet Dr. Nathan Richardson
Dr. Richardson has highly advanced training for shoulder and elbow surgeries and is constantly researching new treatment approaches, materials, and techniques, all for better patient outcomes. As a leading orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Eastern Idaho, his reputation as an excellent and extremely experienced shoulder surgeon makes him one of the most sought after doctors in the region.

For more information about how Dr. Richardson can help you with your shoulder or elbow pain, call (208) 239-8000 or click here. He sees patients in Pocatello and Soda Springs.

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