Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement Surgery in the Larger San Francisco Bay Area

Shoulder replacement is a surgery to replace the loss of cartilage and damaged bone ends around the shoulder joint with new joint surfaces at the end of the arm and near a damaged shoulder joint.

A total shoulder replacement surgery is usually reserved for cases where physical therapy and medication fail to relieve pain, improve mobility, or restore function. Patients should talk with their orthopedist about whether a shoulder replacement surgery is appropriate.

Shoulder replacement at a glance:

  • Shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure that creates a new joint surface in the shoulder using implants.
  • Shoulder replacement surgeries help relieve arthritic pain and may improve shoulder range of motion.
  • Types of shoulder replacements include total shoulder replacement, reverse shoulder replacement, partial shoulder replacement and resurfacing hemiarthroplasty—each for specific circumstances.
  • Recovering from shoulder replacement takes several months and will require prolonged physical therapy. Patients spend a couple of nights in the hospital following surgery.

Types of Shoulder Replacements

There are different types of shoulder replacement surgeries and the type will depend on the symptoms, the type of damage to the shoulder, joint or tendons and the patient’s age.

  • Total shoulder replacement: The surgeon replaces the entire arthritic joint with a prosthetic ball attached to a stem that goes into the humerus and a plastic socket. This procedure commonly treats arthritis effectively as long as the rotator cuff muscles are intact and working.
  • Reverse shoulder replacement: The surgeon switches the ball and socket positions in the shoulder. A socket-shaped prosthetic stem replaces the humerus (the upper arm bone) and a prosthetic ball replaces the shoulder socket. This procedure is appropriate for patients with large rotator cuff tears, and those who experience cuff tear arthropathy (a type of arthritis).
  • Partial shoulder replacement: Depending on the condition of the shoulder, the ball portion (humeral head) of the arm bone is replaced, leaving the natural socket. Partial shoulder replacement is also known as a stemmed hemiarthroplasty.
  • Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty: In this procedure, a cap is fitted onto the shoulder socket or a curved cap is fitted to the humerus head on the arthritic portion to improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Unlike the partial shoulder replacement, resurfacing does not require removing the humeral head, only patching the small areas where there is loss of cartilage.

Recovering from Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Most patients leave the hospital after one to three days following a shoulder replacement surgery. Recovering from a shoulder replacement surgery takes about three months. Rehabilitation usually begins after surgery, except in reverse shoulder replacements, where patients are restricted for about six weeks.

In all but reverse total shoulder replacements, patients participate in physical therapy to maintain range of motion and activity in the shoulder muscles. Each type of shoulder replacement has a specific set of physical therapy guidelines. Strength training doesn’t start until six weeks following the surgery.

Risks of Shoulder Replacements

Infection after shoulder replacement surgery occurs in about one percent of cases but can be higher if the patient has diabetes or is obese. There is also a risk of nerve injury which could cause damage and weaken the muscles.

As in all major surgeries, there is always the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death. All these risks are low.

Muir Orthopaedic Specialists performs shoulder replacement surgery in Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Brentwood, and Concord. Contact us to learn more.