Orthopedic Surgery, Shoulder Surgery

February 24, 2015

Solving Shoulder Osteoarthritis Pain with Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

High resolution 3D rendering of an injured shoulder in pain.  Composite image of x-ray includes clipping plane for background change.

Total shoulder replacement surgery involves removing the damaged ball and socket joint and replacing it with a metal ball and plastic socket. This helps reduce pain and restore range of motion.

One of the most common reasons to have total shoulder replacement surgery is to ease the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis. This condition, which usually occurs in people over 50, can severely limit your activities and even prevent you from getting restful sleep each night. If non-surgical treatment methods, such as medication and physical therapy, have not been effective at reducing your osteoarthritis pain, your doctor might recommend total shoulder replacement surgery and refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation. This might include taking X-rays and other imaging scans in order to see how much damage has been done to your shoulder joint.

Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss the procedure with you and determine whether you are a good candidate. Factors that determine whether you’re a candidate for total shoulder replacement surgery include osteoporosis, your risk of infection, and being a smoker. Smoking has been associated with an increased chance of needing corrective surgery afterwards, while osteoporosis can make it difficult for your bones to support prostheses.

Other reasons to consider total shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Prior non-major shoulder surgery that was unsuccessful
  • Severe shoulder pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis
  • Severe shoulder injuries, such as fractures or a torn rotator cuff

Benefits of Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Total shoulder replacement surgery helps reduce pain for those with debilitating shoulder pain. When this pain prevents you from doing normal activities, such as lifting objects, total shoulder replacement can help restore your range of motion. It can also strengthen your shoulder and provide long-term pain relief. This type of procedure is considered a safe surgical method for treating shoulder pain. Remember, there are always risks involved when you undergo a surgical procedure. Please speak with your surgeon to ensure you understand the possible risks.

What to Expect From Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
If you choose to have total replacement surgery done, your surgeon will have you stop taking certain medications that could raise your risk of complications during or after surgery. These include over-the-counter medications that can increase your risk of bleeding excessively and arthritis medications. You might be asked to stop taking these two weeks before your surgery.

Before surgery, you will be offered a “block”. After the anesthesia takes effect, your surgeon will perform the operation, which typically takes about one-and-a-half to two hours. Your surgeon will make an incision to remove the ball and socket joint, then insert the plastic socket and metal ball replacements.

After total shoulder replacement surgery, you will be given antibiotics to lower your risk of infection. The amount of time you will spend in the hospital depends on how the procedure goes and whether or not there are any complications.

Recovery will take several weeks, during which your activities will be limited. In general, most patients are not allowed to drive a car for up to four weeks after surgery. You will also need to keep your arm in a sling for up to two weeks to provide your shoulder with support while it heals, but it will be allowed out for gentle range-of-motion.

Contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital to make an appointment for a consultation about your chronic shoulder pain by calling us at (877) 918-7020.

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