Neighbors Helping Neighbors


Shoulder Replacement

Who Needs it?

One of the effects of growing older is often degeneration of the joints including the shoulder joint. Hip and knee replacements are often performed to relieve the pain and distress caused by the loss of mobility and the actual bone surfaces touching each other as the intra joint cartilage wears thin.

Less common are problems with the shoulder. But there are a large number of people who suffer from restricted mobility, debilitating pain and general weakness as pathology develops in the shoulder.

The causes of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are largely unknown but are thought to stem from a number of factors including genetic heredity and the development of autoimmune disease. Although symptoms can be treated with exercise and analgesia the manifestations tend to be progressive over time. They are also irreversible.

The human body has many self healing and regenerative features and often recovers from severe illness and trauma, but autoimmune diseases and the ravages of arthritis do not heal. So once the pain killers stop working or the restrictions in mobility adversely affect one’s life style and the joint swells surgery becomes a viable treatment. It is not an option to be undertaken lightly but once all simpler remedies have ceased working the procedure has been shown to be successful.

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint enabling a huge range of movement of the arm. The natural range may not be re-established after the surgery but the major benefit of shoulder surgery is the relief from pain.

Because the surgery itself is very traumatic, involving cutting away bone and screwing a new prosthesis in place and the risks of anesthesia itself the patient will be carefully screened to ensure that they can undergo such a procedure.

What is Shoulder Replacement?

The surgery involves the replacement of the ball with a metal ball which is firmly attached by being screwed into the humerus (bone of the upper arm) and the shaving and replacement of the socket with a hard wearing plastic socket which is cemented to the scapula (shoulder blade).

This whole procedure would be done under general anesthetic and then a period of recuperation and physical therapy will follow, under medical supervision and an exercise regime directed by a trained physical therapist.

Return to normal activities prior to the debilitation of the arthritis may take up to 6 months although usually, within 3 months, most patients are able to do most of the things they wish to and all that will be required is strengthening the muscles as progress and return to full mobility is achieved.

For more information about shoulder replacement please contact us at 707-456-3180.