Shoulder replacement surgery relieves you from severe pain, helping to retain free movement of your shoulders and hands. Though not as common as knee or hip replacement, it is equally successful in treating patients with arthritis and chronic rotator cuff tear facing extreme shoulder pain, soreness, or stiffness. Shoulder replacement surgery is as safe and reliable procedure as other bone replacement surgeries. A research shows life implant success at 10 years is 93% and for 15 years is over 87%.
If your orthopedic doctor already advised for shoulder replacement surgery as the only remedy for your discomfort, it is the time to know how this surgery would benefit you in long term.
Also read: Best Shoulder Replacement Hospitals in India
Who is advised shoulder replacement surgery?
A good surgeon would only advise you a replacement surgery, when your shoulder pain cannot be controlled by non-operative measures. If you are facing severe shoulder pain that restricts with daily chores, even hinders while resting, or experiencing loss of motion / weakness in both or one of your shoulder, it is an indication for the need of a surgery. Remember, age is no more a factor for such surgeries.
Below are the common medical conditions under which your orthopedic doctor would advise for shoulder replacement surgery:
- Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint) – An age-related wear and tear arthritis, usually found in people of age 50 years or above.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – The membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed eventually causing cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness.
- Post-traumatic Arthritis – This occurs mainly in case of accidents and sports injuries, which may cause shoulder fractures or dislocations increasing shoulder pain and swelling
- Osteonecrosis – A condition caused due to disruption of blood supply to your shoulder bones. Joint dislocations, fractures, prolonged use of steroids, sickle cell anemia, or too much alcohol intake are common reasons for osteonecrosis.
- Shoulder fractures
- Failed previous shoulder replacement surgery
Broadly, there are four types of shoulder replacement surgeries, which your orthopedic surgeon would prescribe based on your medical reports.
1. Total Shoulder Replacement (Total Shoulder Arthroplasty, TSA) –
This procedure is said to be the most successful in treating degenerative arthritis pain of shoulder joints. It involves the replacement of the arthritic ball by a highly polished metal ball fixed to the arm bone by a stem.
2. Partial shoulder replacement (hemiarthroplasty) –
Under this the arm bone is replaced with a prosthetic metal implant, leaving the other half of the shoulder intact.
3. Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty –
It involves replacing just the joint surface of the humeral head with a cap-like prosthesis without a stem.
4. Reverse total shoulder replacement –
Do shoulder replacement surgeries have any complications?
Very low complication rate, even less than 2%. Complications such as infection, osteolysis (breakdown of bone near the implant), nerve injury, or implant fracture etc., are very rare. With the latest surgical techniques, the results are getting better. You doctor takes care of all the risks involved with complete care, medication and precautionary measures.
Is your orthopedic surgeon a shoulder injuries and care specialist?
Choosing your shoulder replacement surgeon is critical for the success of your surgery. You should make sure your surgeon has good experience and record of successful shoulder replacement surgeries. Since shoulder replacements are not as common as knee or hip replacements and have highly technical procedure, ensure an experienced surgical team handles your case.
Recovery after shoulder replacement surgery
Usually, the next day of surgery you will begin movement with the help of your doctor and physiotherapist. The stay in the hospital is of two to three days. Till four to six weeks your arm will be in a sling. The wound staples will be removed in about two weeks after surgery.
Following strict physical exercises regime, will help you perform simple activities such as eating, grooming, and dressing within two weeks after the surgery. As the strength and flexibility of your shoulder improves, you can drive after four to five weeks of surgery.
Pain management is extremely important in replacement surgeries for recovery, so strictly follow your doctor’s medication program.
You can return to work within two-three weeks after the surgery but heavier work is forbidden for over four months. The time period of recovery usually depends on case to case basis as how each one responds and progress.
Below is the post-operation care that you should follow:
- Follow the doctor’s instructions firmly
- Follow pain management techniques as told by your doctor, such as pain medication or simple ways for a smooth recovery
- Follow your physiotherapist’s exercises / techniques of simple activities to prevent injury to your new shoulder
Benefits of shoulder replacement surgery:
- Immediate relief from shoulder/arm pain
- Considerably improved mobility with restored motion and strength
- Able to do day-to-day activities easily
- Improves the quality of life
It has been found more than 95% of the patients within a year enjoy pain-free arm and shoulder movement. Many patients have restored their happy normal life and even moved to sports like fishing, tennis, and swimming!
In case of any shoulder replacement query, you can call our patient advisors for ‘free’ guidance.