A healthy shoulder should allow you to move your arm in a wide range of motion. However, over time, the shoulder joint can become damaged due to wear and tear, injury, or disease. This damage can lead to pain and reduced mobility.
If you’re experiencing pain and reduced mobility in your shoulder and conservative treatment hasn’t provided relief, it may be time to consider a shoulder replacement. Total shoulder replacement surgery is a common and effective treatment for shoulder joint damage by relieving pain and restoring mobility.
After your doctor has tried conservative methods to relieve your pain, they may conduct an X-ray or MRI to determine if a shoulder replacement is necessary. If you’re not sure whether a shoulder replacement is right for you, here are some important facts to know, along with five signs that it may be time to consider this treatment option.
How Does a Shoulder Joint Replacement Work?
The shoulder is ball and socket joint, meaning that the ball at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a socket (glenoid). The socket is lined with smooth cartilage, which allows the ball to move freely within the socket.
The bones and cartilage in the shoulder joint are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These structures allow the shoulder to move in a wide range of motion while keeping the joint stable.
Over time, the cartilage in the shoulder joint can wear down due to wear and tear, injury, or disease. This wear and tear can lead to pain and reduced mobility. In some cases, the cartilage may be completely worn away, exposing the underlying bone.
When nonsurgical treatments such as medication and physical therapy fail to relieve shoulder joint pain, a shoulder replacement may be recommended. Shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged cartilage with artificial components (prosthetics).
Shoulder Replacement Surgery: The Procedure
Traditional shoulder replacement surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, an incision is made over the shoulder joint. The damaged cartilage is then removed from the ball and socket.
Next, the artificial components are placed into the shoulder joint. The ball is attached to the upper arm bone (humerus) with a metal stem. The socket (glenoid) is replaced with a metal or plastic cup. In some cases, a metal plate may also be used to secure the socket in place.
Once the artificial components are in place, the incision is closed and the arm is placed in a sling.
Types of Shoulder Replacement
The type of shoulder replacement surgery performed will depend on the extent of damage to the rotator cuff muscles. There are two main types of shoulder replacement surgery:
1. Total shoulder joint replacement
In a total shoulder replacement, both the ball and socket are replaced with artificial components. This type of shoulder replacement is typically recommended for patients with advanced shoulder joint damage.
2. Reverse total shoulder replacement
In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the positions of the ball and socket are reversed. This type of shoulder replacement is typically recommended for patients with advanced shoulder joint damage and rotator cuff tears.
5 Signs You Need a Shoulder Replacement
You're in Severe Pain
If you're dealing with severe shoulder pain that's interfering with your daily life, it may be time for a shoulder replacement. Severe shoulder pain can make it difficult to perform simple tasks such as bathing or dressing. If nonsurgical options haven't offered you the pain relief you need, shoulder replacement surgery may be the best option.
You Have Limited Range of Motion
If you have limited range of motion in your shoulder, it may be time for a replacement. Limited range of shoulder motion can make it difficult to perform daily tasks such as reaching overhead or combing your hair. Shoulder replacement surgery can help improve range of motion and reduce pain.
You Have an Arthritic Shoulder
Shoulder arthritis is a common cause of shoulder pain. If you have arthritis in your shoulder, it may be time for a replacement. Shoulder replacement surgery can help relieve pain and improve range of motion.
You Haven't Been the Same Since a Serious Shoulder Injury
If you've suffered a serious shoulder injury, it may be time for a replacement. Serious shoulder injuries such as a rotator cuff tear with cartilage loss can damage the shoulder joint, leading to pain and limited range of motion. Shoulder joint replacement surgery may give you the pain relief and improved range of motion you need.
Visit the Top Shoulder Specialist Near You
If you're dealing with shoulder pain, limited range of motion, or other issues, a board-certified shoulder orthopedic surgeon can help. Your shoulder replacement surgeon will evaluate your condition and recommend the best treatment options for you.
While many people with shoulder pain respond well to conservative treatments, others show during an X-ray or MRI that a shoulder replacement is the best option for long-term relief. Most patients who undergo shoulder replacement surgery experience significant pain relief and improved range of motion.
At , we offer comprehensive shoulder care. We have a team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons who are experts in shoulder surgery, . Our surgeons use the latest techniques and technology to provide our patients with the best possible outcomes.