A shoulder arthroplasty (replacement) may be recommended for patients whose arthritis or injuries don’t respond to other treatments.
Medications and physical therapy are often used to treat shoulder pain in patients who have some form of arthritis or injury. But while this may be enough for some patients, others may not get the level of relief and range of motion they need to live comfortably. In these cases, a shoulder arthroplasty (or shoulder replacement surgery) may be a viable option for pain management.
This procedure is generally used as a way to treat osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes damage to cartilage and nearby bones through wear and tear over time.
Other conditions that can necessitate shoulder replacement surgery include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Rotator cuff tear arthropathy
- Severe fracture
- Lingering pain or discomfort after prior arthroscopic surgery
- Avascular necrosis
There are several ways to perform a shoulder arthroplasty. The most appropriate type of surgery for a patient will depend on his or her needs:
- Partial replacement – If only part of the shoulder joint is causing problems, it can be replaced or resurfaced with a hemiarthroplasty. The ball of the humeral head can either be covered with a prosthesis or removed, along with its stem, and replaced with metal parts.
- Total replacement – If both parts of the joint need to be replaced, a plastic cup can be attached to the socket and the humeral ball will either be resurfaced or replaced, as with a hemiarthroplasty.
- Reverse total shoulder replacement – If there are serious problems with a patient’s rotator cuff, a reverse shoulder replacement may be recommended. In this procedure, the locations of the ball and socket are surgically switched—meaning the plastic cup is attached to the humeral bone while the metal ball is placed where the socket was.
What to Expect
Shoulder arthroplasty surgery typically takes about two hours to complete, and most patients stay in the hospital for one or two nights. As with any kind of orthopaedic surgery, there are some risks involved with shoulder arthroplasty. These include infection, nerve damage and dislocation.
While the shoulder’s range of motion won’t be as large as it was prior to surgery, shoulder arthroplasty can relieve the pain from arthritis or injury. Patient recovery times will vary based on the nature of the surgery and the consistency they keep with a physical therapy program. Typically, a physical rehabilitation program begins approximately six weeks after surgery.
Tampa General Hospital’s Orthopaedic Institute offers a world-class shoulder replacement program that uses cutting-edge technology and first-rate care to provide patients with the most effective treatment plans for their unique needs.