A shoulder Replacement surgery involves removing the injured parts of the shoulder and replacing it with the artificial components, called prosthesis. The treatment options are either the replacement of just the head of the humerus bone (ball), or replacement of both the ball and the socket (glenoid). In this surgery the damaged humeral head (or joint “ball”) is replaced with a metal ball, and the surgeon put a new smooth plastic surface on the glenoid (called the “socket”). Metal on the plastic surfaces (rather than metal on metal) are the hallmark of virtually all shoulder replacement implant systems. Partial shoulder replacement (or hemi-replacement) may also be indicated with certain complex shoulder fractures of the humeral head. This procedure requires the replacement of the ball component wholly.
You may have to consider shoulder replacement surgery if you have a condition that cause pain in your shoulder and hard to use your arm, and cause problems such as:
Before you get your new shoulder, your doctor will conduct a full exam and X-rays or other imaging tests to get a look at the joint. You should talk to your doctor about any other conditions that you have and any medications that you take. You will be advised to stop taking certain drugs, especially narcotic painkillers, several weeks before surgery. Your doctor will also ask you to cut back on drinking and get more exercise, too. If you smoke, you’ll be asked to quit smoking. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your operation.
This procedure takes about 3 hours. During the surgery an orthopedic surgeon will give you drugs to put you under during the surgery. The surgeon will replace your natural bone in the ball and socket of your shoulder joint with a material that could be metal or plastic. This is a complex surgery that’ll keep you in the hospital for several days. You’ll also need several weeks of physical therapy after the surgery.
Following are three types of shoulder replacement surgeries:
Total shoulder replacement: This is the most common type of shoulder replacement surgeries. In this procedure the surgeon will replace the ball at the top of your humerus with a metal ball, which gets attached to the remaining bone and the socket gets covered with a new plastic surface.
Partial shoulder replacement: In this procedure only the ball gets replaced.
Reverse shoulder replacement: You’d get this if you have a torn rotator cuff. This treatment is also done when another shoulder replacement surgery didn’t work. In this procedure the metal ball gets attached to your shoulder bones, and a socket is implanted at the top of your arm.
After the surgery the patient have to spend 2 to 5 days in the hospital before going home. The shoulder that is replaced will swell, and it will hurt. Your doctor will prescribe some medicines and drugs to help you manage the pain. Cold compresses are given to control the swelling. At first, your arm will be placed in a brace to keep it from moving. Within a day or so, you can start physical therapy to get your arm and your new shoulder working.
You can keep doing physical therapy after you go home. You’ll be also asked to do exercises that will gradually improve how your new joint works. It may take about 4 weeks before you can pick up anything heavier than a glass of water. Your arm will be in a sling for during your recovery. It may be 6 weeks or more before you will be able to drive again. In the year after your surgery, you will have several follow-up and visits with your doctor so he/she can see how your recovery is going.
Most people have full motion in their shoulder and return to their daily routine after a shoulder replacement surgery. But as with any operation, there are also chances of complications. These may include:
Infection or bleeding around the joint: You’ll probably get some antibiotics after your surgery to reduce your chances of an infection.
Dislocation: This will happen when the ball slips out of the socket.
Nerves around your shoulder may also get damaged during surgery: They usually recover.
After years of use, the shoulder that is replaced may become loose or separate from the bone: You may need surgery to fix it.