Shoulder Replacement

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Shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the shoulder joint if it has been damaged or worn away, usually by arthritis or injury. The primary goal of shoulder replacement surgery is pain relief, with a secondary benefit of restoring motion, strength, function, and assisting with returning patients to an activity level as near to normal as possible.

 

 

Causes

Shoulder replacement surgery is usually done when there is severe pain in the shoulder area, which limits the ability to move the arm. Common reasons behind shoulder pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Poor result from a previous shoulder surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Badly broken bone in the arm near the shoulder
  • Badly damaged or torn tissues in the shoulder
  • Tumor in or around the shoulder

Procedure

Before surgery

The patient is asked about any medications that they have been taking. This includes medicines, supplements, or herbs bought without a prescription. Medicines which make blood clotting harder to occur shall be refrained from consumption before surgery. Consumption of cigarettes or alcohol would be prohibited before the surgery as these factors slow down the recovery process. The patient will likely be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.

During surgery

There are various types of shoulder replacement surgeries. For total shoulder replacement, the round end of the arm bone will be replaced with an artificial stem that has a rounded metal head. The socket part (glenoid) of the shoulder blade will be replaced with a smooth plastic shell (lining) that will be held in place with special cement. If only 1 of these 2 bones needs to be replaced, the surgery is called a partial shoulder replacement, or a hemiarthroplasty.

For shoulder joint replacement, the surgeon will make an incision (cut) over the shoulder joint to open up the area. Then the surgeon will:

  • Remove the head (top) of the upper arm bone (humerus)
  • Cement the new metal head and stem into place
  • Smooth the surface of the old socket and cement the new one in place
  • Close the incision with staples or sutures
  • Place a dressing (bandage) over the wound

The surgeon may place a tube in this area to drain fluid that may build up in the joint. The drain will be removed when the patient no longer needs it. Usually, the surgery takes about 1 to 3 hours. The patient would be expected to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days post surgery. Painkiller may be prescribed as treatment for shoulder pain to lessen any discomfort when the anesthetic wears off.

Recovery

It usually takes at least three months to make a full recovery from a shoulder replacement surgery. However, this varies between individuals, so it's important to follow the surgeon's advice.

The amount of time the dissolvable stitches take to wane off depends on the type of stitches used. For this procedure, they should usually disappear in about six weeks. The patient may need to keep their arm in a sling for several weeks after the operation.

The amount of time the dissolvable stitches take to wane off depends on the type of stitches used. For this procedure, they should usually disappear in about six weeks. The patient may need to keep their arm in a sling for several weeks after the operation.

The surgeon may recommend avoiding any heavy lifting for up to six weeks after the operation. It's best not to do any repetitive heavy lifting at all after the operation as this will help the new joint last longer.