In a healthy shoulder, these portions of bone are covered with cartilage, which allows for painless motion—lifting, pushing and pulling. But arthritis can damage this protective cartilage, which makes these motions painful.
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that causes wear and tear to your joint cartilage and develops after years of constant motion and pressure on the joints. If non-surgical treatment options such as medication, physical therapy or lifestyle changes fail to provide relief, your surgeon may recommend shoulder replacement surgery.
Watch Video on Total Shoulder Replacement
During surgery, an incision is made in the front of the shoulder. Once the surgeon exposes the shoulder joint, the surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage. The head of the humerus is then removed and a metal stem is placed into the humeral canal. This provides a stabilizing anchor for the new humeral head.
If the rotator cuff is no longer functioning normally, a surgeon may opt to perform a reverse total shoulder replacement. In this procedure, the anatomy of the shoulder is reversed by attaching a metal ball (glenosphere) to the glenoid and the plastic socket (humeral liner) to the upper humerus. A reverse shoulder replacement empowers the deltoid to become the main functioning muscle in the absence of a healthy rotator cuff.
Larry, Shoulder Replacement Patient
Larry is an orthopaedic surgeon and a woodworker. He received Exactech’s Equinoxe Reverse Shoulder and this is his story.
The Exactech Shoulder System is a platform system that allows conversion of a primary or fracture shoulder replacement to a reverse with the same humeral stem, thereby conserving bone.
What preparation is required prior to surgery?
In order to minimize risks, your surgeon may have you see your family physician before surgery to obtain tests. You also may need to have any upcoming dental work completed or prepare your home to avoid any post-surgery falls.
How long will my joint replacement last?
There are implants that have been documented to last 15-20 years. However, there are numerous factors that affect the longevity of a total joint replacement including patient indications (age, weight and activity level), implant design and materials used during surgery.
Just like your natural joint, the components of an artificial implant are subject to wear over time from friction caused by bending, straightening and supporting your body weight.
What is recovery like after joint replacement?
Therapy may begin the same day as your surgery and may continue up to four to six months post-op. Exercise is crucial for proper rehabilitation to promote blood flow, strengthen muscles and regain motion. Proper rehabilitation and willingness to follow all of your surgeon’s recommendations will contribute to a more successful recovery after surgery.
What activities can be resumed after surgery?
Most patients are able to resume everyday activities like climbing stairs and possibly driving three to four weeks post-op depending on your surgeon and your condition. This includes waist-level activities like writing for shoulder replacement patients. Activities such as golf, doubles tennis and swimming can usually be resumed, but only after a thorough evaluation by your surgeon. Recovery time will vary for each patient.
High-impact activities or contact sports are typically not recommended. These types of activities place an extreme amount of pressure on the joints, which could lead to complications.
What are the risks associated with joint replacement surgery?
Joint replacement surgery is a major operation and although it is extremely successful in most cases, some patients may experience complications, including but not limited to: infection, blood clots, implant breakage, malalignment and premature wear. Any of these can require additional surgery.