What is a Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery essentially replaces the ends of each bone of the joint creating a new stable surface for the joint to function smoothly across. The extent of the surgery and materials used vary from patient to patient but generally involve resurfacing of the humerus or scapula using plastic or metal. Cement or a material that may allow the bone to grow attached to the new joint components is used to hold the new joint surfaces in place.

Aspects of Surgery

Resurfacing the humerus is often done by replacing the upper portion of the arm with a metal piece with a round humeral head like surface. The cup shaped area enclosing the humeral head may also be smoothed out or reshaped using plastic or another material.

Surgeons generally use a localized anaesthesia during the operation and will prescribe antibiotics before and after surgery in order to reduce the risk of infection.

After Surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery is rarely outpatient. A patient can expect to remain on an IV for at least a day as doctors monitor general health, drain fluid from the joint, deliver pain suppressants, antibiotics and sometimes even anticoagulants. The shoulder will be wrapped and sometimes use a compression sleeve to allow better blood circulation. A catheter may also be used in some cases.

Light forms of physical therapy will begin within a few days after surgery in order to maintain range of motion. Slowly less and less pain medication will be necessary and a full regimen of physical therapy may begin.

Once recovery is completed, it is imperative for the patient to maintain activity in order to maintain flexibility, range of motion, and strength.

How Well Will it Work?

Since shoulder replacement surgery is done under extreme circumstances most individuals experience far less pain and enjoy a larger variety of activities than prior to the procedure. The early joint replacement surgery is done however the more likely a second surgery will be necessary within the lifetime as components may break down over time.

What should I keep in mind?

There are inherent risks, though uncommon, with surgery such as infection, damage to nerves or blood vessels, blood clots, and anesthesia risks. The surgery also introduces other risks that may result from improper recovery such as shoulder instability, dislocation or fracture. Recognizing these risks and taking the appropriate actions to reduce these risks is imperative.

Ways to Alleviate Pain From Metastatic Cancer

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be taken to reduce inflammation and pain in the time while still contemplating surgery. Post-surgery a patient should follow their surgeons rehabilitation plan for ways to alleviate pain.

Places to Get Help

Get excellent bone and joint treatment from the top doctors at OrthoArizona – Arizona Orthopaedic Associates.