The human shoulder is a ball and socket joint. It is one of the most mobile joints in the body, which is why it’s more vulnerable to degenerative disorders and injuries. Poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to debilitating shoulder pain, interfering with normal daily activities. Though intermittent shoulder pain isn’t a serious problem, as it can be managed with heating pads, cold therapy, and OTC sprays; some disorders, such as shoulder arthritis, may cause permanent shoulder pain. Such instances could call for shoulder arthroplasty, a surgical method performed to help relieve chronic shoulder pain. The physicians participating in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line offer various treatment options for shoulder pain including shoulder replacement surgery. Continuing the discussion, the blog post answers five frequently asked questions about Total Shoulder Arthroplasty.

1. When is Shoulder Replacement Surgery Suggested?

Total shoulder arthroplasty is generally recommended when the shoulder joint is destabilized to an extent that the arm becomes immovable without pain. Reasons for shoulder immobility can be osteoarthritis or recent trauma to the shoulder joint. A severely fractured shoulder can also call for a shoulder replacement, when there is risk of further complications and the pain has failed to respond to conventional methods such as medications and steroid injections.

2. What are the available types of Total Shoulder Arthroplasty?

Shoulder replacement surgery aims at relieving debilitating pain in the shoulder and restoring a normal range of motion and mobility, to facilitate a pain-free life for the patient. Depending on the level of pain and damage to the shoulder joint, a surgeon can choose any of the following surgical methods:

Total Shoulder Arthroplasty
TSA is the most common form of shoulder replacement surgery, wherein the ball-and-socket surfaces are completely replaced with similarly shaped artificial prosthetics. TSA is known to be effective against debilitating shoulder arthritis, but unsuitable in cases where there is significant damage to the rotator cuff muscles.

Read More : Busting 5 Myths about Shoulder Arthritis and its Symptoms

Reverse Shoulder Replacement
Reverse Shoulder replacement is effective for people with damaged rotator cuff muscles, who can’t benefit from a total shoulder replacement. As the name suggests, the surgery reverses the position of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder, wherein the upper arm bone (humerus) is replaced with socket shaped prosthetic and the natural socket is fitted with a prosthetic ball. The procedure compensates for the rotator cuff function.

Partial Shoulder Replacement
Also known as stemmed hemiarthroplasty, the surgical procedure replaces the humerus with a prosthetic ball, however, the socket or the glenoid bone remains intact. The procedure is suitable for patients with limited damage to rotator cuff muscles, which are responsible for motion, or negligible wear and tear to the socket or glenoid.

Related Read : Answering 5 FAQs about Shoulder Replacement Surgery

3. What is the average duration of Shoulder Replacement Surgery and are there any risks?

Shoulder replacement surgery may last for as long as three hours, including the time required to sedate the patient. Though most types of shoulder arthroplasty are performed under general anesthesia, the surgeon can also prefer local anesthesia to numb the whole arm. Risks and complications during shoulder surgery are rare but cannot be overlooked. Typical risks include bone fracture, joint dislocation, shoulder damage, and blood clot formation.

Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center.

4. How is the recovery after Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

The pain experienced after the surgery is usually managed using anesthetics and a morphine pump for the initial few days. Once the pain starts subsiding, milder pain medications such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen are sufficient to give the patient relief. Apart from medications, cold therapy and low impact exercises can also help to some degree in restoring shoulder mobility and resuming day-to-day activities. Patients must always consult their surgeon before starting any activity that may have an adverse impact on the operated shoulder. In most instances, recovery shows the following trend:

  • After 3 months, there is little pain in the shoulder and many patients start regaining normal shoulder motion.
  • Two- thirds of shoulder motion is restored after 6 months, and most patients accomplish the goal of a pain-free shoulder.
  • One year after shoulder replacement arthroplasty, 95 percent of patients have a pain-free, mobile shoulder, except the possibility of weather related shoulder ache.

5. What can be done to avoid shoulder pain after surgery?

Patients need to be physically active after shoulder replacement arthroplasty to get back their shoulder strength, flexibility, and endurance. For that to happen, one needs to enroll in a shoulder exercise program after approval from their surgeon, and stick to the daily exercise routine. They are also required to visit the surgeon once in a while for an assessment of their shoulder motion and whether the recovery is progressing as desired. Even a year after surgery, the shoulder can still be weak, therefore, patients need to refrain from lifting heavy weights and indulging in activities and contact sports that may damage the repaired shoulder.

The Bottom Line

Shoulder replacement surgery is a highly successful procedure with a proven record of mitigating pain, stiffness, and numbness, along with restoration of shoulder mobility. Many people are fearful of getting under the surgeon’s knife and continue to deal with immense shoulder pain for years, foregoing the relief they can get from shoulder replacement surgery. If you or someone you know is struggling with long-term shoulder pain that won’t go away with conventional treatment methods, the participating physicians at Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center can help. Equipped with a vast experience carrying out total shoulder replacement, the participating surgeons can make a big difference in relieving shoulder pain. To learn more about shoulder replacement surgery: diagnosis, types, and recovery, fill out our appointment form or simply call us at 1-888-608-4762.

Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic.

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