Any experience with Total Shoulder replacement and shooting


November 14, 2010, 04:12 AM
Hi All,
This thread could really be in shotguns too, but mainly what I am interested in is rifles. So here goes, I need to have my left shoulder replaced. While its not my main shooting shoulder, as I am right handed, I am curious if anyone has had experience with shoulder replacement and shooting? I will probably have to have my right shoulder done in a number of years, I have arthritis in it now... but with my weird medical condition (acromegaly if anyone wants to Google it) I am most likely looking at the right shoulder at some point in time... already had both hips replaced and I am only 40 :banghead::banghead:

Acromegaly is also known as gigantism, but in my case it hit in late puberty so I am not 7' tall, just have really big bones... I am heavy too, but in my case... I am do have large bones and actually gland problems too, since to treat the acromegaly, they used radiation and that destroyed my pituitary gland.... life is fun without a pituitary gland, not.

Anyhow enough of my medical experiences, any info on shooting and shoulder replacement? Currently I a 30-06 is my largest rifle caliber and I do have a 12ga shotgun. I don't really like heavy magnum rifles... I like to shoot and getting repeatedly whacked hard by magnum calibers isn't my idea of fun.


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November 14, 2010, 10:36 AM
I haven't had the surgery myself, but a good friend has. His was the result of injury, not arthritis. He basically can't shoot shotguns and is limited to low recoil rifles. He can shoot my 308, but it is a 17 pound target gun with virtually no recoil. Intermediate caliber rounds like 7.62x39, 223, etc are no problem.

November 14, 2010, 02:08 PM
I suppose there's always tripod mounted guns as well. No experience with shoulder replacement, but a friend underwent this a week ago. I too am curiious about the future.

November 14, 2010, 04:04 PM
Thanks for the quick replies, a 17# 308, kind of heavy for hunting. But the extra weight makes sense, absorb some of the recoil. Thankfully at this time its my non-shooting shoulder, I better take care of my right shoulder. Stupid left shoulder is bone on bone, cartilage is totally gone. It's a while before I get the surgery, school and family and all.

November 15, 2010, 04:07 PM
After surgery on my smashed right shoulder I went to 20 semiauto shotgun for birds, and a AR-15 for deer. I can shoot bigger but after 2-3 shots the pain gets high and it seems to tire me out. I almost got a 6.8 upper but problems with my AR and time limits stopped that. I have a Saiga (AK type) that is easy to shoot as well.

November 15, 2010, 04:39 PM
sounds like you should start shopping for a nice .22-250 or .223
in a heavy barreled gun these have practically no recoil.

November 15, 2010, 04:46 PM
Caldwell's Lead Sled ( may be a solution for you.

November 16, 2010, 01:57 AM
I like your reasoning, perfect reason to go gun shopping, although I do have a 223 mini 14, but a 22-250 or maybe a 243 sounds good :-)

November 16, 2010, 02:18 AM
I would say for a rifle that an AR platform would be the way to go. Caliber is up to you. Personally I like the 6.8SPC.Plus the are fairly light to carry out in the woods. If a bolt action is more your speed then say a 243 plenty good for deer as shot placement is key when hunting anything. If you want a shotgun then I would go with a 20ga and a knoxx speed-feed or some other sort of recoil reducing stock.

November 16, 2010, 03:24 PM
A little on me first; my age is 41

I fraid the tendons and ripped the bicep of my left shoulder. When the Dr tried to fix they decided that I need a replacement also and that I'm to young to do it. So I am on a permenant nothing heavier than 10lbs, and no repetetive motion.

My right shoulder has bone spurs and the Dr wants to take a piece of tendon from my pect and add it to the shoulder to help keep it in place (pull it forward) and round out the spurs. This is a patch rather than replace this shoulder also.

I have 3 discs in my neck that are buldging and the Dr wants to fuze them together.

I also now have carpil tunnel in both wrists.

What I have done to continue with my sport is download some and switch calibers. A 35 remington with a 180grain being pushed by Unique is a great bunch of fun and no recoil. Lever action in pistol calibers are something to consider. The 357mag is one to consider if you don't reload.

Recoil reducing muzzle breaks are also something to look at. They are loud, and they work.

Last but not least, Handgun hunting is a lot of fun. When you walk thru the woods the weight is in a holster not on your shoulders. And with practice, 100yds is easy to do.

November 17, 2010, 03:44 PM
The good thing is that you shoot a 30-06. I dislocated my shoulder and tore all the muscles involved in the shoulder to include breaking bones in a freaky accident. What I ended up doing was putting a muzzle break on the barrel but putting in a limbsave recoil pad on my 30 yr old savage 110. Shooting 165 grains feels like shooting a 243 to me. The beauty of the 30-06 is that you can get 150 grains for deer and will still be enough for elk as well. By the way the biggest deer I shot was an eleven pointer that weighed 225 dressed and I used a 125 grain bullet. Shooting 125 grain with the muzzle break and limbsaver recoil pad is reeeeeaaaly sweeet on my shoulder, but the BOOM from the muzzle blast sets off car alarms and ringing in the ears if you do not have good hearing protection. Buy a 20 gauge shot gun with a Knoxx Special Ops stock and you basically can do anything with your 20 gauge that the 12 gauge does. Good luck and hope this was helpful.

November 18, 2010, 07:38 AM
Two fused and plated neck vertebrea, nerve damage wich leaves me with a numb left hand and right arm , and a pending hip replacement.

Big boomers are out. Pistol calibre carbines are in.

November 18, 2010, 12:48 PM
Good information, thanks all! ms6852 that is some very good information and an excellent idea. Bikerdoc, you are dedicated! To keep shooting with a numb hand and a numb arm, that is impressive. I hadn't thought of Handgun hunting, that is a good idea and another excuse, err rather reason to buy another gun.
The hip replacement surgery wasn't too bad for me, I can now walk now without canes or a walker.

Thanks for all the ideas and encouragement, where there is a will, there is a way!

November 19, 2010, 09:15 AM
Not a total replacement but a good amount of surgery to my right shoulder. Best answer is maybe. After having muscles re-attached you have to work thru scar tissue and getting as much range of motion as possible. It will be a relearning experience as the rifle butt might not seat quite the same. If possible, find a physical therapist that shoots and tell them what you want to do. They can figure out an exercise plan to get you there. Most of all, give yourself plenty of time to heal properly.
I have worked back to shooting rifles and shotguns but am not as good of a shot as before.

November 19, 2010, 05:15 PM
I haven't had shoulder replacement surgery, but I'm on month 3 of recovery from an Open Bankart (Reattaching the tendons and repairing cartilage after dislocating my shoulder...a lot)

If its your non dominant arm, you could probably shoot AFTER you've had a good amount of physical therapy and time to heal. I'd recommend asking both the Doc and the therapist, and ask more than just "can I shoot?" You might be able to shoot handguns.

Don't make the same mistake I did, and buy a new 30-06, take the hunters ed course,(I thought hunting might be a good thing to replace surfing, kayaking, and mountain biking while I healed :banghead: ) and THEN find out that you will not be able to shoot high-power rifles/shotguns for quite a few months. :banghead: I will never schedule surgery for a few weeks before hunting/fishing season starts again. :banghead:

Hope things go well for you. I'd recommend finding a few hobbies that you can do right away to make the recovery more bearable. Best of luck to you,

Chris "the Kayak-Man" Johnson

November 19, 2010, 05:22 PM
As BBA stated, it will be a "RELEARNING" experience. I just remembered that my grandfather would place the rifle more towards the pectoral muscle and shoot in that manner, quite accurately as a matter of fact. So another option available could be to shorten your length of pull making it easier to place rifle stock over pectoral muscle. You can practice getting good at it by using a 22lr which would allow you to shoot thousands of rounds for a few dollars.

November 19, 2010, 08:57 PM
Sounds to me like you NEED either a 243, 250 Savidge, 257 Roberts or 25-06 for deer or a 260, 6.5x55 Swede, or 7mm-08 for deer/black bear & elk! :D

November 19, 2010, 09:18 PM
two major surgeries, very limited range of motion to the right, no strength in shoulder. Cancer is a mess, artificial joint in shoulder, bone in humerus.

Good news, can shoot with left arm...learning to hold forearm with right arm. I can't hunt this year...maybe next.

Bird Dog II
November 20, 2010, 08:22 AM
A friend of mine messed up his shoulder in a motar attack while downrange in Iraq. He came home one summer and had surgery in the early fall. He had always shot a .30-06, but the doc told him that was a no-no for deer season. She said he could only shoot a .22. He was going to take me out to this farm he had permission to hunt, but not hunt himself. I loaded up some 60 grain partitions in .22-250 and brought him my heavy barrel Encore. It drives tacs and does not kick at all. He said "you think it is alright?" "It's a 22 ain't it?" I responded. He dropped a nice doe in her tracks at 175 yds later that day. I told him to use a bowhunters eye for shot placement (no shoulder shots or bad angles) and he'd be fine. He said she dropped like she was struck with lightening.

So I say get some 60 grain Nosler and a .22-250 with a 1-12" twist barrel and don't look back.

November 20, 2010, 11:11 PM
Wow, thanks for all the info.... I'm sorry though that so many people have had such serious health problems. dougw47, sorry to hear about the cancer, never fun, God Bless!

I do need a 22-250, that way if the dr says only 22's I am good to go :) and I do hunt elk, not successfully, so I will **need** a 7mm-08, actually I am going elk hunting tomorrow... not likely to be successful as not a lot of time this year to hunt, between my school and my wife's work and the kids being off all week.

I will probably have my surgery next summer to work around my kids school schedule, my school schedule and my wife's work schedule... so most likely no hunting for me next fall, except for maybe with a 22, say a 22-250 :)

Thanks for all the information, I really do appreciate it.

January 17, 2012, 03:41 AM
Had R shoulder scoped and tear fixed in '01.
Now have more knots on the ball eating the socket away and lot's of pain, lack of motion etc.
Doc said "replace the ball with one that has a long stem. Wanted to get it done in Dec so I could heal up
over winter. BUT: first appt isn't until Feb 13th to see the shoulder doc. Hard telling if/when they'll do anything toward fixing this up for me.

Bad knee's since Aug '70, eating glucosamine and Synvisc shots every six months. So far I'm still on my
own joints though at times I've kissed A's and begged for replacements. "you're not ready yet" is the reports.
Did have a L3 fusion in lumbar Nov '05. Fixed the problem but, isn't a total pain free ordeal even with the dope I take.

Sure hope this shoulder don't ruin my big bore shooting and elk hunting I do every year.

First post, just joined thanks to Johnny, came up on a google about this subject. Never heard of THR before. Looks interesting.

January 17, 2012, 03:55 AM
Ive had both of my labrums repaired(the left two years ago and my right last august) i havent really shot anything since my last one but my left shoulder feels very solid and my right one will be better as well, espically once i get around to doing more free weights itll start to strengthen up alot more. That being said if it was off shoulder id feel 100% conifident going to shoot whatever.

But if you shoulder it on your surgery side you could expierence quite a bit of pain up until about 4-5 months espically if your talking about larger calibers. Good excuse to pick up an AR-15/AK-74 though;)

P.S. Take physical therapy seriously as it will cut down recovery time significantly

EDIT: Im only 18 and my body responded quite well but orthoscopic surgery has become really effective. But go ahead and expect popping and clicking once its fully healed as scar tissue will build inside your joint. Thankfully mine isnt painful but not overdoing recovery in the first 2-4 months will cut down on the accumulation of the tissue

Art Eatman
January 17, 2012, 08:35 AM
My .243 is a seven-pound carbine. I have killed a couple of dozen bucks with the Sierra 85-grain HPBT bullet--which is now loaded by Federal. The recoil is not at all onerous. Mostly neck shots; a few cross-body heart/lung shots--and they all fell where they were hit.

I'd guess that this load in an eight-pound rifle with a Limbsaver-type recoil pad would be adequately gentle on a bad shoulder, but be quite effective on deer.

Greg Mercurio
January 17, 2012, 09:35 AM
John: I had a rather large bone spur removed from my collar bone a year ago. It was chewing a hole in the bursal sac and very painful most of the time. Not a total shoulder replacement by a long shot, but it was right where the butt is placed for shooting. To keep the Dr. happy, I use a PAST Recoil Shield on my shoulder, and have made up practice loads for all of my over .25 caliber rifles using Trailboss. It makes no real sense to me to fire hundreds of full power loads to practice, when the hunt will only consist of one or 2 shots in the field. In any case, even the .458 Win and .416 Rigby are a hoot to shoot with TB. Enjoy.

January 17, 2012, 10:13 AM
gldwight, glad you found us here at THR we are a pretty friendly and helpful bunch. Since I originally posted this, I haven't had any surgery for my shoulders. My ortho wants/is willing to replace my left shoulder and probably my right shoulder as it is now starting to give me problems, but my general doctor wants to wait, he says I'm too young for shoulder replacement (42 years old now). So for the time being I am just waiting, my left shoulder hasn't really been bothering me this winter (Thank you Lord!) but my right shoulder has taken over, but not as bad as the left was last winter. Both of my shoulders have limited range of movement, but physical therapy has kept them working, if somewhat painful.
Good luck to everyone with shoulder problems, I never realized how painful and how limiting arthritis in the shoulders could be. My Dad had bad arthritis in both of his shoulders and he practically bathed in Ben-Gay, stunk up the whole house! Now I know what he was going through.
As a side note, its kind of funny, but my Daughter (now 9) was 4 when Grandpa passed away, but one day recently my wife was putting on some ben-gay after a hard workout and our Daughter walked in and said "It smells like Grandpa in here..." my wife and I both laughed and then had a few tears, wish Grandpa was around to see his grand kids and vice-versa.
Anyhow, God Bless!

January 18, 2012, 12:51 AM
Thanks for the welcome and replies.
I've found them to be helpful and encouraging along with several I got on too.
I spend a lot of time over there as I'm deep into small cal's.

JHenry: age 18, what the devil happened to your shoulders? man, that's mighty young for such problems. I'm sorry to hear about them hitting you.

I just reread my first post and see that I didn't put my age in there. Looks like I'm the old man of the bunch here so far at least. I'll be 68 on the 28th(12 days or so).
Plus I've been around and beat myself up much of my life to cause these problems too. I'm paying for it, that's for sure. Unless something or someone does me in, I'll be going thru this stuff awhile yet too. Just buried my Dad Oct '09 aged 92/8mo. He was in pretty decent health for his age and trails he rode on as a cowboy.

My elk rifle is a 10#, 26" easy kicking .300WinM with 200gr Sierra's about as fast as possible.
I'm also building a .358U/M right now too. Intentions are to tame them both as much as I can with mercury capsules when I can finance them.
So recoil is nothing I haven't learned to live with already. I also shoot .45 Colt 330gr w/20gr H110 as my big pistol. I'm one that wouldn't have an AR if they gave me the factory. Don't take offense at that as I mean no harm, I just don't like 'em. I'm a wood stocked bolt gun shooter. Though I do have several black plastic NEF rifles and a CVA .54 bp blk plastic too.

Soon as it prove's itself on one, I'll likely spray some camo on the plastic guns. Painted one today, it's drying now. Think I'm gonna like it real well IF it proves durable and I feel it will.
Used that multi colored Stone paint from Rust Oleum for $9/can. The tan shade. Painted the whole gun, bipod & all, taped over the lense's and scope markings was all, the rest got painted. Looks pretty darned good so far.

I'm well acquainted with being in shape before surgery and PT afterwards. I've got a whole lot of exp with healing things up.

Take care, wish you all well, catch up around here more when I get a chance.
George/Pueblo CO

January 18, 2012, 07:51 AM
My .243 is a seven-pound carbine. I have killed a couple of dozen bucks with the Sierra 85-grain HPBT bullet--which is now loaded by Federal. The recoil is not at all onerous. Mostly neck shots; a few cross-body heart/lung shots--and they all fell where they were hit.

I'd guess that this load in an eight-pound rifle with a Limbsaver-type recoil pad would be adequately gentle on a bad shoulder, but be quite effective on deer.

I agree with Art's comments above, but for heavier game, you may want to consider using Hornaday GMX 80 grain bullets in your handloads. They're accurate and hold together very well, providing greater killing power than heavier bullets, but with lower recoil.

Art Eatman
January 18, 2012, 11:47 AM
Sorry, gldwight, but you need nine more years. :D Shucks, I've been shooting rifles longer than you've been living. :D:D:D

January 19, 2012, 12:23 AM
Pat yourself on the back old man!!
Not many on most boards that are as old as even I am, let alone as old as you are.

Out here in CO we can't shoot elk with less than .25 cal so that eliminates the .243 as it should.
It's a fine antelope & deer rifle, which I use mine for when I'm out for prairie goats. Usually when I'm
out for muley's it's elk season and area too so I'm carrying the .300WinM with those 200gr Sierra's that will
do the job and no splash on the surface like that 180gr Core Lokt did for me in 2000 on a cow at 200yds.
Just a fluke and one single bad bullet out of 500 I bought. There's been at least 63 elk killed with bullets
from the same 500 slug box and my reloads. About 8 were killed at less than 40yds, two at 30 feet in the
timber and not a bad bullet other than that one I had.

Once they're gone, they're gone and I'll get the other guys to shooting 200's & they won't know the difference as I'll just hand 'em ammo & collect the money.

I'll tame these guns with mercury if they need it after I heal up enough to get back to shooting them.
They've already got the weight, long barrels and good pads, balance and fit and they shoot real well too.

Thanks guys, wish you well.

January 21, 2012, 12:24 AM try a muzzle brake to lesson recoil

January 21, 2012, 12:30 AM
johnnyorygun I wish you well. If you want to shoot there will always be a gun that you can shoot even if its just a 22.

January 21, 2012, 12:32 AM
age 18, what the devil happened to your shoulders? man, that's mighty young for such problems. I'm sorry to hear about them hitting you.

Football can be pretty be hard on the body

January 21, 2012, 07:26 AM
^ football can be very hard on the body.

I'm a PT student, and I've seen some very painful recoveries already related to arthritic conditions.
The entire application of force to the shoulder in a non-normal loading (we didn't evolve/weren't created to have force applied to our shoulders in that way) is touchy if you're having a replacement or considering one.

Think about something like a crossbow with almost 0 recoil.
They tend to tell younger people to wait because you basically get one shot at replacement. Screw that up and you just have to live with it.
Do your PT and don't play word games with what the Ortho and PT's tell you.
That's my dos centavos anyway.

In the end you need to be able to drive your car, stir your coffee, pet your dog, etc. more than you need to shoot rifles at varmints.
I have, however, seen people use an AR with a sling and shooting sticks with shoulder problems. :0)

January 21, 2012, 07:43 AM
What the PT guy said +1.

The other thing is muscle mass after surgery will be nil so there will be nothing to soften the recoil. As much as I liked my big bores I had to down load them to make sure I did not blow the new joint all the way to the scrap ward.

January 21, 2012, 10:54 AM
What the PT guy said +2.

I haven't had shoulder replacement but had both shoulders sliced and diced last year to re-attach the rotator cuffs, scope the arteritis, and cut off the ends of my collar bones. I think a .223 is about my limit on recoil now. If I were left handed it would be a 22LR. :(

I AM NOT going to do anything go through any of that again. I think shoulder replacement would be even more unpleasant and more fragile.

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