What is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure that involves removing damaged parts of your shoulder and replacing them with artificial components. The goal of this surgery is to relieve pain and restore mobility in the shoulder. If you’re asking yourself if shoulder replacement surgery is worth it, begin by weighing the pros and cons.
In this blog post, I will discuss more about shoulder replacement surgery and why it may be worth it for you.
Indications for Shoulder Replacement Surgery
The primary indication for total shoulder replacement surgery is glenohumeral arthritis. Other less common indications include inflammatory arthropathy, post-traumatic arthritis, certain fracture scenarios, and others.
The main issue patients tend to complain of is continued pain, weakness, and reduced mobility in the shoulder. If you are in this category and conservative treatment hasn’t provided relief, it may be time to consider talking with me about a shoulder replacement as an option. I don’t like offering surgery on the first visit, but if we feel like we’ve exhausted all the conservative treatment options, then we will address the possibility of surgery.
If pain is waking you up at night, you’re experiencing weakness in the affected are, or you find it difficult to participate in normal activities, it is time talk to a shoulder specialist, like myself, to see if this procedure is right for you.
Evaluating if Shoulder Replacement Surgery is Worth it
Weighing the Benefits
Shoulder replacement surgery can provide significant benefits for someone who has been suffering shoulder pain and not finding relief with conservative treatments. At a patient’s consultation with me, we discuss all the options prior to making the final decision to go ahead with surgery. By helping you understand the benefits and what to expect from this procedure, you will feel more comfortable in making a better educated decision on if a shoulder replacement surgery is right for you.
Key Indicators and Conditions
Understanding the reasons why you might need total shoulder replacement surgery can help you feel at ease about what you can expect as an outcome.
Key indicators for shoulder replacement are:
- Not getting good sleep due to shoulder pain at night
- Not being able to resume a normal lifestyle
- Not being able to get back to work
- Failure of conservative treatments such as cortisone injections, physical therapy, NSAIDs, and other modalities.
Some of the most common reason patients end up needing shoulder replacement surgery is a condition called osteoarthritis (glenohumeral). Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage (what cushions the bones) in the joint. Normal wear and tear, due to age or injury, causes that cushion to begin to break down. Once this occurs, the bones eventually rub together (known as bone-on-bone) causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the shoulder joint.
Other conditions that can lead to needing shoulder replacement surgery include rheumatoid arthritis – chronic inflammatory conditions, post-traumatic arthritis, and avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone).
Are You a Candidate?
As we have discussed previously, if you feel like you have tried conservative treatments with no relief, then you should make an appointment with me to determine if you are a good candidate for shoulder replacement surgery. If your pain includes reduced range of motion and continually interferes with normal everyday functions such as cooking, driving, showering, or even sleeping, then it is time to schedule a consultation with me.
The average shoulder replacement patient is typically between 60 and 80 years old. However, each patient is unique. Depending on the situation, age can vary greatly, and I take time with each of my patients to make sure we find the absolute best option for their individual needs. A lot of time it just depends on the patient’s overall health and the severity of their shoulder condition. It is incredibly important to seek advice from a surgeon who specializes in treating shoulders and one who is willing to listen to your concerns.
What to Expect
During shoulder replacement surgery, I remove the damaged parts of you shoulder and replace it with artificial components (implants). This will include a humeral stem, a humeral head, and a glenoid implant. Shoulder replacement surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will very likely go home the same day.
The goal with shoulder replacement surgery to restore your lifestyle back to where you’re not having pain or discomfort, and that you’re able to sleep pain-free at night. We want you to be able to move on with your life as you get further out from shoulder replacement surgery, by utilizing physical therapy to rehab the joint.
The Recovery Process
The recovery process after shoulder replacement surgery typically involves physical therapy and gradually increasing activity levels. Throughout post-operative physical therapy, you will undergo exercises to help you regain range of motion and strength in your shoulder. In general, I tell patients that full recovery can take about 3 to 6 months. At 3 months post-op, most restrictions are lifted, and people can begin trying to adapt back to their lifestyle and try out their new shoulder.
Enhanced Quality of Life
After recovery, many patients have enjoyed returning to a normal lifestyle that is no longer consumed by shoulder pain. Most experience a notable improvement in mobility and pain. Overall, the relief from pain and the restored function can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.
Is it Worth It?
Ultimately, the decision to have shoulder replacement surgery is entirely up to the patient. Consulting a shoulder specialist can give you the best idea of what to expect and how to decide the best treatment option. Consider your pain levels, mobility issues, overall health, and personal goals when deciding if surgery is the right option. This procedure often helps relieve shoulder pain and gets patients back to doing the things they enjoy doing, which often outweighs continuing to live with pain.
If you are wondering if shoulder replacement surgery worth it, consider the information listed in many of my shoulder related blog posts. For many people who have been struggling with shoulder pain, the answer is a resounding yes, but it will always depend on your individual situation and diagnosis. The opportunity to live without chronic shoulder pain and to regain mobility can be life changing. However, it is important to fully understand the whole picture and talk to a shoulder specialist, like myself, to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.
If this is something that you’ve been struggling with or if you’re having continued shoulder pain, I’d love to go over your images, do a good physical exam, explore you history, and really develop a treatment plan that meets your goals and your objectives and allows you to get back to the lifestyle that you’re trying to live in the shortest amount of time possible.
Contact my office to schedule an appointment with me to discuss your shoulder pain and if a shoulder replacement surgery is worth it for you.