Shoulder Replacement                                                                                                                                              «  Back to Shoulder & Elbow
Most people know someone with an artificial hip or knee. Fewer people know anyone with a shoulder replacement. (Arthroplasty) Shoulder replacement surgery is an option for treatment of severe arthritis of the shoulder joint, but very often people tolerate their symptoms longer because the arm is not a weight bearing extremity. Additionally, many people do not even know that shoulder replacement is an option.

Arthritis affects the cartilage of the joints. The cartilage is worn away and the protective lining between the bones is lost, causing painful bone on bone rubbing. Severe shoulder arthritis is quite painful, and can cause restriction of motion. While this may be tolerated with some medications and lifestyle adjustments, there may come a time when surgical treatment is necessary.
What is a Reverse total shoulder replacement?
Total shoulder replacement surgery involves the replacement of the damaged bone and cartilage with metal and plastic implants, thus alleviating pain and restoring mobility.

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, with a very shallow socket. The ball is the top of the arm bone (the Humerus), and the socket is part of the shoulder blade (scapula) called the glenoid. Stability is maintained by the ligaments and muscles. This mechanism allows a vast range of motion at the shoulder.

During shoulder replacement surgery, the ball is removed from the top of the Humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is shaved to remove the cartlidge and replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.

Reverse total Shoulder Arthroplasty is performed on select patients with Rotator Cuff tears. In this procedure, the prosthetic ball (glenosphere) is placed on the glenoid and the socket is placed on top of the humerus.

Shoulder replacement surgery takes about two hours. The incision for the surgery is along the front of the shoulder joint, usually about six inches long. The surgery is most often done under general anesthesia, where the patient is put to sleep. Hospital stays range from one to three days.

Total rehabilitation from shoulder replacement surgery usually takes three to six months, but patients say it is well worth it. At that juncture, patients are able to return to most normal activities and place an emphasis on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder and maintaining range of motion.

As with any surgery, there are risks involved, although complications are not frequent. Advances in surgical techniques and prosthetic innovations are helping to reduce the occurrence of these complications. Surgeon experience is also paramount in reducing complications.

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