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Shoulder Replacement Overview
When shoulder pain starts interfering with daily activities, it may be time to consider shoulder surgery.
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What to Expect from Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Whether or not to have shoulder replacement surgery is a difficult decision. When medications, physical therapy and other methods of treatment no longer relieve pain, it may be time to consider shoulder replacement, which is designed to help provide pain relief and freedom of movement.
Discussing your treatment options with your doctor is essential to helping you decide if this is the right choice for you. Learning more about shoulder replacement surgery can help you to formulate the questions you would like to ask your doctor. Click the Doctor Discussion Guide to view some sample questions for your doctor. You can print these questions to bring to your next appointment.
Treatments for shoulder pain focus on ways to manage discomfort and improve function. Most successful treatments involve a combination of methods tailored to individual needs, lifestyle, and health.
The potential benefits from shoulder replacement are:
- Pain relief
- Improved mobility
In total shoulder replacement surgery, the ball of the upper arm bone (humerus) and socket of the shoulder blade (scapula) are replaced with specially designed components. The humeral implant consists of a metal ball that replaces the head of the humerus, and a stem that is secured in the the upper arm bone (humerus).
The goal of shoulder replacement is to help you get back to an active lifestyle with less pain. Your shoulder joint is as unique as you are. The variation from person to person is due to differences in size, shape, and angle of the bones, as well as other natural variations. Your surgeon can select the right shoulder implant to help replicate the angles of your natural alignment, which helps restore the smooth, natural movement of the shoulder.
What to Expect After Surgery
An increasing number of patients are getting back to more active lifestyles thanks to advancements in the materials and procedures used in shoulder replacement. Shoulder replacement is the third most common joint replacement1 . The success of your shoulder replacement is measured by whether or not you are satisfied with the decrease in your overall pain and the increase in your mobility, as well as the durability of your implant over time.
Each patient recovers differently. After surgery, you will work with a physical therapist to gradually increase your shoulder strength and mobility. Many people are able to go home soon after surgery. Others choose to recover at a rehabilitation center. This decision depends on the availability of family or friends to help you with daily activities; your home environment and safety considerations; and your overall evaluation after surgery. You and your surgeon will decide together which course of treatment is best for you.
Typically, patients are able to drive again in about four to six weeks, so long as they can tolerate it and are not taking narcotic medications. If your job is not physically demanding, you may be able to get back to work after about a month. These decisions are made in consultation with your doctor.
1 McFarland EG. "Shrug off shoulder surgery myth, Johns Hopkins study suggests." http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/shrug_off_shoulder_surgery_myth_study_suggests/.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. The performance of shoulder replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. If you have conditions that limit rehabilitation you should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell you if shoulder replacement is right for you.