What is Shoulder Replacement?
Shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure where the damaged parts of your shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial parts known as prostheses.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones; the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). The ball at the top of the upper arm bone fits neatly into a socket called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade. The surfaces of the bones where they touch are surrounded with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that protects the bones and allows them to move smoothly against each other. If your cartilage is damaged by wear and tear, injury, or arthritis, it can make your shoulder joint stiff and painful. Unfortunately, this process is irreversible, and the only definitive solution is shoulder replacement.
What are the Types of Shoulder Replacement?
Shoulder replacement surgery restores the ball and socket with an artificial part or prosthesis. There are different types of shoulder replacement, including:
- Total Shoulder Replacement (Traditional Shoulder Arthroplasty): This procedure involves replacing both the damaged ball-and-socket surfaces of the shoulder with similarly shaped prosthetics.
- Reverse Shoulder Replacement (Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty): This procedure involves reversing the position of the ball and socket. The ball at the top of the upper arm bone is replaced with a socket-shaped prosthetic, while the shoulder’s natural socket is fitted with a prosthetic ball.
- Partial Shoulder Replacement (Stemmed Hemiarthroplasty): This procedure involves partially replacing the damaged shoulder parts where only the humeral head is detached and replaced with a prosthetic ball instead of replacing both the socket and ball.
- Shoulder Resurfacing (Resurfacing Hemiarthroplasty): This surgery involves fitting the damaged humeral head with a rounded smooth cap to enable better joint movement.
What are the Indications for Shoulder Replacement?
Some of the indications that prompt shoulder replacement surgery include:
- Complex shoulder injury or fractures
- Non-reparable rotator cuff tear
- Persistent pain that interferes with everyday activities
- Moderate to severe pain while resting
- Loss of motion and/or weakness
- Avascular necrosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Failed previous replacement surgery
- Posttraumatic arthritis
- Failure to considerably improve with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, or cortisone injections
Am I a Candidate for Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Whether or not you are a suitable candidate for shoulder replacement surgery would depend upon the evaluation and assessment of the indications, symptoms, and medical history by your physician.