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According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, each year 53,000 people in the U.S. have shoulder replacement surgery - also called total shoulder arthroplasty. When nonsurgical methods of treatment like medications and activity changes no longer relieve joint shoulder pain, those suffering may want to consider shoulder replacement surgery. Should replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, improve motion and mobility, and help patients resume everyday activities.

Types of Shoulder Replacement
  • Total Shoulder Replacement – The typical total shoulder replacement involves replacing the arthritic joint surfaces with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem, and a plastic socket.
  • Partial Shoulder Replacement – A partial shoulder replacement consists of replacing only the ball of the shoulder joint. This removes the need for a plastic socket, requires the removal of less bone and has a smaller incision than a total shoulder replacement.
How Shoulder Replacement Surgery is Performed

The typical total shoulder replacement involves replacing the arthritic joint surfaces with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem, and a plastic socket.

These components come in various sizes. They may be either cemented or "press fit" into the bone. If the bone is of good quality, your surgeon may choose to use a non-cemented (press-fit) humeral component. If the bone is soft, the humeral component may be implanted with bone cement. In most cases, an all-plastic glenoid (socket) component is implanted with bone cement.

Implantation of a glenoid component is not advised if:

  • The glenoid has good cartilage.
  • The glenoid bone is severely deficient.
  • The rotator cuff tendons are irreparably torn.

Patients with bone-on-bone osteoarthritis and intact rotator cuff tendons are generally good candidates for conventional total shoulder replacement.

Benefits of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Following the surgery, hospital stays usually last for 2 or 3 days. During this time, you will recover from the anesthesia, and from the surgery itself. After the first day recovering from surgery, you will be asked to start moving and walking around.

Most patients are able to go home directly after a short hospital stay. Patients going home will begin therapy at an outpatient physical therapy facility. If the discharge planner determines that home health services are needed, the hospital will arrange for this.

Some patients may need a short stay in a rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital and before they go home. The decision to go home or to a skilled nursing facility will be made collectively by you, the Joint Care Coordinator, your surgeon, physical therapist, and your insurance company. Every attempt will be made to have this decision finalized in advance but it may be delayed until the day of discharge. At a rehab center, you will learn how to safely do your daily activities on your own. Home health services are also available.

With the advances in technology, physicians are discovering new ways to improve the life span of artificial hip joints. According to research, 96 percent of patients who have had shoulder replacement surgery ranked the pain relief as good. The surgical procedure is an effective way to relieve shoulder joint pain.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery Follow Up Care

After surgery, you will have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to make sure your shoulder is healing properly. If recovery is progressing well, most people resume their normal activities by this time — even if in a limited fashion.

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