Al Roker undergoing shoulder surgery this week

The TODAY weatherman will have a replacement surgery on his right shoulder due to arthritis, six years after having surgery on his left shoulder.
/ Source: TODAY

Al Roker is going back under the knife.

Al, 65, announced on the 3rd hour of TODAY Tuesday that he will be off for the remainder of the week because he is undergoing total shoulder replacement surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City on Wednesday for arthritis in his right shoulder.

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"It's not bad during the day, but at night it's an intense pain that literally wakes me up," Al said. "For the last month, I've only been sleeping about two or three hours a night, which even for me is a little bit less."

This will be Al's second shoulder surgery in six years, as he had surgery in 2014 to have the rotator cuff repaired in his left shoulder, which included getting a call from then-Vice President Joe Biden to check on him during his recovery.

Dr. Riley Williams III, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, performed the 2014 surgery and will be handling Al's hour-long procedure on Wednesday.

"It's gotten to the point where I can't even sleep at night, and Riley's been helping me limp along and finally shared with me I needed to get it replaced," Al said.

"On the whole, it's really designed to just basically restore the normal joint services so that arthritic, achy pain that he's been having and waking him up at night can go away and we can kind of get him back on a road to recovery," Williams said on TODAY.

The shoulder procedure also marks Al's second surgery in less than a year, as he had a total hip replacement done on his left hip in September 2019 at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He was back on TODAY just 12 days later.

Al was also at the Hospital for Special Surgery in 2016 for surgery on his right knee, 15 years after he underwent surgery on his left knee following a car accident and battles with his weight.

"The deal is that I'm going to have replaced everything by 2027," Al joked.

"I have to say it is quite unusual to have this many joints affected in such a relatively short amount of time," Williams said.

While arthritis affects 50 million Americans and arthritis in the shoulder is common, only about 10% of people who have it need replacement surgery after trying other non-surgical therapies, according to Williams.

"What you can expect after having a shoulder replacement is 25-plus years of really good function, provided you do all the requisite things after surgery (like) getting good healing, good nutrition and physical therapy to restrengthen the muscles around the shoulder. It really, really is life-changing and can bring you back to a point where you don't even realize that you had the shoulder operated on in the first place."

Al also noted that family members on his mother's side suffer from "really intense arthritis," which Williams said can play a role in Al being affected by it. The arthritis in Al's right shoulder has caused regular pain and affected his range of motion, particularly moving the shoulder up and down.

"Osteoarthritis, which is what most of us have and what you have, can affect multiple joints and is thought to be what we call a variable penetrance, meaning some combination of a genetic predisposition and some environmental factors," Williams said.

The TODAY weatherman and co-host is expected to be in a sling for three weeks and will undergo physical therapy for seven to 10 days in his recovery from the surgery.