What is a shoulder replacement?
Shoulder replacement is a surgical technique that replaces the bony surfaces of the ball-and-socket joint with artificial prosthetics. The implants that replace natural, degraded structure are made of surgical grade metal and plastic. By replacing bones that may have developed spurs or other irregularities, shoulder surgery can help put an end to your pain.
Benefits of Shoulder Replacement Surgery
A shoulder replacement surgery can really improve quality of life and your overall mobility. A part of your body that is often moved around, your shoulder is responsible for most of your upper body motion. During a shoulder replacement surgery, part or your entire shoulder will be replaced with an artificial joint. One of your surgeons at Summit Healthcare Orthopedic Center will insert a prosthesis into the stressed parts of your shoulder with plastic or metal parts. These new parts are skillfully integrated during shoulder surgery.
The benefits of this procedure are long-lasting, with shoulder implants often lasting more than a decade. The number of shoulder replacement surgeries performed each year has increased in the last two decades. This is primarily due to the significant advances that have occurred in this window of time. Today, shoulder replacement surgery is viewed as an effective and reliable method of ending shoulder pain.
Candidates for a Shoulder Replacement
Shoulder replacement surgery is typically considered only after conservative therapies have been used to reduce pain related to degenerative joint disease or arthritis. In some cases, shoulder replacement is the most appropriate way to address a severe shoulder injury. You and your doctor at Summit Healthcare Orthopedic Center can work together to determine the next best step in treating ongoing shoulder pain.
A full physical examination of the joint and imaging observe the structures of the joint, which provide valuable information to facilitate the development of an appropriate treatment plan. Outside of clinical data, your subjective experience is one of the best ways to know if you need shoulder surgery. Consider if:
- Shoulder pain makes it difficult to perform activities like getting dressed or brushing your hair.
- If pain prevents you from sleeping well.
- Your arm can move in a wide range of motion, or if mobility has decreased due to pain.
- Nonsurgical treatments have been unsuccessful at achieving meaningful improvement.
How successful is shoulder replacement surgery?
Shoulder replacement surgery is a highly valued treatment option for patients with end-stage arthritis in this important joint. At one-year post surgery, 95% of patients are without pain and able to resume activities that involve the shoulder. It is important to understand that shoulder replacement is one aspect of an extensive rehabilitation process. For an optimal function to return, it is necessary to commit to the post-operative physical therapy program that is prescribed.
Preparing for Shoulder Replacement Surgery
The morning of your scheduled surgery, you should arrive early to Summit Healthcare Orthopedic Clinic. Once there, your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure will be checked before the procedure. An IV (intravenous) line will provide necessary fluids to improve the effectiveness of the surgery and reduce your discomfort.
These are additional instructions to follow:
- No eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery
- Speak to your provider before taking medications
- Attempt to sleep well to calm nerves
- Have someone to drive you home
Shoulder Replacement Procedure
Shoulder replacement surgery is performed in our operating room under general anesthesia. A regional anesthetic may also be administered to achieve optimal comfort during surgery and initial recovery. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint; The top of the humerus, or arm bone, makes up the “ball” aspect of the joint. The ball of the humerus sits within the socket of the shoulder joint. To repair an arthritic joint, the surgeon inserts an artificial ball in the form of a metal implant. This new ball has a stem that stabilizes it in the arm bone. On the other end, the socket is replaced with a plastic implant in which the new ball will rest. The entire procedure is completed in approximately 2 hours.
Shoulder Replacement Recovery
Surgery may be followed by a brief hospital stay at Summit Healthcare Orthopedic Center, during which we can observe initial healing and watch for potential complications. Physical therapy may begin within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Initially, physical therapy focuses on preventing stiffness in the muscles around the shoulder joint. This will progress over time to focus on strengthening and mobility exercises. While in our hospital, comfort is managed with prescription medication.
When discharged from Summit healthcare Orthopedic Center, patients can expect their arm to be in a sling, and the shoulder will be supported in this way for several weeks. The sling should not inhibit the use of the fingers, hand, and wrist of the arm, but will prevent large movements of the shoulder. Prescription medications should be taken only as directed and only when needed. As inflammation decreases, our patients rely less and less on medication for comfort.
Physical therapy begins shortly after surgery and continues for several weeks or months after discharge. The rehabilitation phase of shoulder replacement is crucial to the final outcome of treatment.
Will range of motion be restored after shoulder replacement surgery?
While most patients can expect a range of motion to also improve as a result of the new joint, the degree of mobility gained may be somewhat limited. This may depend on the severity of arthritis or injury within the joint at the time of surgery. Generally, our surgeons prepare patients to expect mobility to be half of its norm by three months post-op. Six months after surgery, approximately two-thirds of the norm should be regained. It is around one year after surgery when mobility should be at its highest and new norm.
How soon will I be able to drive after shoulder surgery?
Patients can resume driving once they have regained an adequate range of motion after shoulder replacement surgery. This may occur six weeks after the procedure with consistent physical therapy.
How long will the shoulder implant last?
The shoulder prosthetics used today have a high success rate, with 90 percent of new implants lasting 10 years or longer!
When to call your Orthopedic Surgeon?
Once at home, call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain not relieved by your pain medicine
- Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
- Fever over 101.0°F (38.3°C)
Risks and Complications with Shoulder Replacement Surgery
As complex as the shoulder joint is, the risk of complications from shoulder replacement surgery is impressively low. Most patients regain a significant degree of mobility from their procedure, which allows them to return to a normal activity level. However, shoulder replacement surgery can carry possible risks and complications.
These include the following:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Dislocation of the joint
- Loosening of the prosthesis
- Wearing out the prosthetic
- Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves