Shoulder replacement has become one of the fastest growing joint replacement surgeries in the U.S. It has proven to be a safe and effective surgery for treating pain and deterioration caused by age-related wear and tear, different forms of arthritis and shoulder fractures. On its Radiant Blog, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center offers advice about determining if shoulder surgery might be appropriate.
The full blog post is below or available here.
Shoulder replacement has become one of the fastest growing joint replacement surgeries in the U.S. Like its more well-known counterparts (knee and hip replacement), it’s proven to be a safe and effective surgery for treating pain and deterioration caused by age-related wear and tear, different forms of arthritis and shoulder fractures. Shoulder replacement surgery isn’t new, in fact, it was first performed in the ‘50s to treat severe shoulder fractures. More recently, it has gained popularity for its success in treating other painful conditions.
While shoulder replacement should never be your first line of defense for pain, it’s a viable choice for those who have tried nonsurgical treatment options like medications, therapy and steroid injections. Currently, shoulder replacement is available to treat the following conditions:
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint which means the rounded surface of one bone moves within the depression of another bone. This allows for greater flexibility and freedom of movement. During shoulder replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged parts of the shoulder and replaces them with artificial parts. The treatment options are either partial replacement where only the head (or ball) of the upper arm bone is replaced or total replacement of both the ball and the socket (shallow depression on a bone into which another bone fits).
A reverse shoulder replacement is also an option for those with rotator cuff tears who have developed arthritis. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place. In reverse shoulder replacement, the deltoid muscle compensates for the damaged rotator cuff muscles and tendons and helps control the arm through range of motion.
Who can benefit from surgery?
There are a variety of reasons your doctor may recommend shoulder replacement surgery, but people who make the best candidates are those with:
There is a delicate balance between doing the replacement too soon and waiting too long. Because a shoulder joint can be expected to last for 15 to 20 years, the downside of replacing it too early is the likelihood of needing a revision surgery in the future. On the flip side, waiting too long means the cartilage could become severely worn out. This can lead to a more complex surgery with an increased risk of surgical complications and a slower recovery.
Improving pain and quality of life
The best way to determine if you’re a candidate for shoulder replacement is to see a qualified surgeon who can perform a full medical evaluation. This will include reviewing your medical history, a general assessment of your health, X-rays to assess the extent of damage to the shoulder, and other tests to determine the condition of soft tissues.
St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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