Who needs a shoulder replacement?
If you suffer from severe pain and limited mobility caused by arthritis in your shoulder, and nonsurgical treatments haven’t been enough to relieve your symptoms, you may be a candidate. Shoulder replacements can’t correct damage to your rotator cuff, which commonly coexists with arthritis in the shoulder joint. However, they are highly effective in treating arthritis – when the cartilage on the ends of your bones is gone and there is bone rubbing on bone in the joint.
What happens during a total shoulder replacement?
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged ends of bone and cartilage in your shoulder and replace them with artificial parts. The typical total shoulder replacement involves replacing the joint surfaces with a smooth plastic shell (socket) and a metal ball attached to a stem. The surgery usually takes three hours total.
How do you recover?
Following total shoulder replacement, patients typically stay in the hospital overnight. During this time you will work with a physical therapist, who will teach you gentle exercises to begin right away and give you a program of exercises to perform at home. When you are not performing exercises, your arm will remain in a sling or brace for protection and support. In the first few days following surgery, pain may be significant. However, you will be given appropriate medications for pain management.
How long until you see results?
During the first four to six weeks following surgery, your arm will remain in a sling for support and protection. You will also continue a gentle physical therapy program to strengthen your shoulder and improve flexibility. As your body continues to adjust to the new joint, you will begin to see gradual improvements in your pain and range of motion. In the first two weeks, patients may see reduction in their pain levels. By three to four months, most see about 80% of the shoulder function return. Up to one year, they may continue to see improvements in strength and range of motion.
How long does a shoulder replacement last?
A properly performed total shoulder replacement will last between 10 and 20 years. But with continual advancements in surgical techniques and prosthetic designs, these numbers may improve. The longevity of your replacement will depend on your age, hand dominance, physical demands, and compliance with limitations.