Exploring the Benefits of Shoulder Arthroplasty

Shoulder arthroplasty, also known as shoulder joint replacement surgery, is a medical procedure used to replace a damaged shoulder joint with an artificial one. This operation is commonly performed to treat severe shoulder conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rotator cuff tears, and osteonecrosis, which have not responded to conservative treatments.

man holding his shoulder

When is shoulder arthroplasty needed?

Shoulder arthroplasty is often recommended to treat several severe shoulder conditions that have not responded to conservative treatments. These conditions include:

  • Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage in your joints.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints.
  • Rotator cuff tears: A common cause of pain and disability among adults.
  • Osteonecrosis: A disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones in the joints.

Patients with these conditions typically experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as persistent pain, limited range of motion, stiffness, and swelling in the shoulder.

How is shoulder arthroplasty diagnosed?

Before recommending shoulder arthroplasty, our doctors will conduct a thorough evaluation of your medical history and physical examination. They may also order imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or bone scans to fully understand the nature and extent of the problem.

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What can shoulder arthroplasty do?

The goal of shoulder arthroplasty is to relieve prolonged shoulder pain and other symptoms by replacing the damaged bone and cartilage with a metal and plastic implant. The shoulder, like the hip, is a ball-and-socket joint, and its function can be significantly improved with joint replacement surgery. This procedure offers patients the chance to regain their mobility, enjoy pain-free movement, and return to their regular activities.

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What is the shoulder arthroplasty procedure?

The shoulder arthroplasty procedure typically lasts about two hours and can be performed either arthroscopically or through a traditional open procedure. Regardless of the surgical method, the damaged portions of the bone and cartilage are removed, the surfaces of the remaining bone are smoothed, and prosthetic devices are positioned in the space and secured with surgical cement. After the artificial joint is securely placed in the shoulder, the surgeon sutures the incisions closed.

What is the recovery following shoulder arthroplasty?

After the surgery, patients are usually required to stay in the hospital for one to three days. For the first several weeks, patients need to wear a sling to protect and support the healing shoulder. Physical therapy is crucial in the recovery process to restore flexibility and function to the joint. Most patients can expect to return to their regular activities within two to three months.

Why choose our experienced shoulder surgeons for shoulder arthroplasty?

Choosing us for your shoulder arthroplasty means entrusting your care to a team of highly skilled, board-certified specialists who graduated from top-tier universities like Princeton, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia. Our team comprises fellowship and subspecialty-trained surgeons with expertise in areas including sports medicine, trauma, hand and wrist, foot and ankle, and joint replacements. We pride ourselves on being pioneers in shoulder arthroplasty, utilizing the latest advances and most precise techniques for optimal patient outcomes.

We offer services in English and Spanish, ensuring clear communication about conditions, treatments, and recovery expectations. Our patients love our doctors due to the high level of care we provide, resulting in positive outcomes and significant improvements in pain, flexibility, and mobility after shoulder replacement surgery. As part of a multidisciplinary team, our single focus is restoring you to health, mobility, and a comfortable lifestyle. We work together to ensure you receive the best possible care throughout your journey, from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

Shoulder Arthroplasty FAQ

What is shoulder arthroplasty?

Shoulder arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that involves replacing part or all of the shoulder joint with artificial components. It's typically done to relieve pain and improve function in shoulders severely affected by arthritis or injury.

Who is a candidate for shoulder arthroplasty?

Ideal candidates are those with significant shoulder pain and limited function due to conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, or severe fractures and who haven't found relief through conservative treatments.

How long is the recovery after shoulder arthroplasty?

Recovery can vary but generally involves several weeks of limited activity followed by physical therapy. Most patients can expect to return to normal activities within a few months, but full recovery may take up to a year.

What are the risks of shoulder arthroplasty?

As with any surgery, risks include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, and complications related to anesthesia. Specific to shoulder arthroplasty, there's also the risk of implant loosening or wear over time.

How long does a shoulder arthroplasty implant last?

Modern shoulder arthroplasty implants typically last 15-20 years, depending on factors like the patient's activity level, weight, and overall health.

Will I have a full range of motion after shoulder arthroplasty?

While the goal is to improve the range of motion and alleviate pain, the extent of improvement varies. A full range of motion is not always achievable, but significant functional improvement is expected.

Is physical therapy necessary after shoulder arthroplasty?

Yes, physical therapy is a crucial part of recovery. It helps regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the shoulder.

Can I return to sports after shoulder arthroplasty?

Participation in low-impact sports may be possible following recovery, but high-impact activities and contact sports are generally discouraged to protect the implant.

What is the difference between partial and total shoulder arthroplasty?

Partial arthroplasty replaces only part of the shoulder joint, typically just the ball of the humerus, while total arthroplasty replaces both the ball of the humerus and the socket in the shoulder blade.

How do I prepare for shoulder arthroplasty surgery?

Preparation involves a physical examination, possibly adjusting medications, and planning for post-surgery recovery at home. Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines based on your health condition.

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