Comprising of the humerus (upper arm bone), clavicle (collar bone) and the scapula (the shoulder blade), the human shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is one of the most used in the human body, which puts it at a high risk of injury or degenerative disorders. A person can experience a debilitating shoulder pain, numbness and stiffness, due to a poor posture, injury or overworked joints. For people who experience shoulder pain once in a while, pain medications and sprays can help. Serious degenerative conditions such as Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis, however, may require a partial or total shoulder replacement. Continuing the discussion, the blog post answers five FAQs about the surgery. Take a look.


1. When is shoulder replacement needed?

Shoulder replacement, also called Shoulder Arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure performed to ease the pain and stiffness associated with Arthritis and other degenerative conditions affecting the shoulder joint. The primary aim of the surgery is to relieve the pain and stiffness caused by diverse shoulder conditions. The procedure is also helpful in restoring strength, motion and function of the shoulder joint. In addition to osteoarthritis, total shoulder replacement is also recommended in the cases of:

  • Shoulder fracture
  • Tissue damage in the shoulder
  • Tumor in the shoulder
  • Torn rotator cuff muscles


2. How is shoulder replacement performed?

A typical shoulder replacement surgery replaces the original joint’s anatomy with artificial metal and plastic prosthetics. The surgeon cuts a portion of the rotator cuff – the covering of the shoulder, gaining access to the “ball and socket” joint. During surgery, the damaged upper arm, called the humerus and the shoulder bone, are replaced and capped with artificial surfaces lined with plastic or metal.


3. How long does a shoulder replacement surgery take?

The surgery lasts between 1 ½ to 3 hours, including the time required for sedation. Total shoulder replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon, however, may also opt for local anesthesia for numbing the entire arm, which is called a nerve block.

4. What are the risks involved in shoulder replacement?

Though rare, shoulder replacement surgery can involve certain risks that can be mitigated by an experienced surgeon. The list includes:

  • Bone fracture
  • Joint dislocation
  • Shoulder nerve damage
  • Bleeding, blood clot or infection
  • Loosening of the prosthesis


5. What is the recovery process after shoulder replacement?

Many patients require a morphine pump for a few days after the procedure, to relieve pain. Once the pain subsides, the patient can gradually transition to normal pain medicine. Cold therapy may be helpful in alleviating pain and a physiotherapist may assist in restoring normal motion of the shoulder. The course of recovery goes as follows:

  • After three months, many patients are able to restore partial shoulder motion with little pain.
  • At the end of six months, most patients experience no pain and significant improvement of shoulder motion is restored.
  • After one year, 95 percent of the patients find permanent relief. They may, however, experience an occasional shoulder ache during changes in weather.


Wrapping Up

Prolonged shoulder pain may radiate downwards to the entire hand and cripple the ability of an individual to sit, perform daily tasks, and may also disturb their sleep pattern. Undergoing a shoulder replacement surgery is usually the last resort, when the pain gets unbearable or starts restricting arm movement. Though the procedure has a high success rate, a lot depends on the postoperative care and rehabilitation measures. If you or someone you know is experiencing shoulder pain that is not going away with medications, the specialists at Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center can help. Our team possesses extensive experience in treating diverse shoulder conditions with a high success rate. To book an appointment, simply call 1-888-608-476 or fill out this form.