Do I Need Total Shoulder Replacement?

Joseph A. Abboud, MD September 24th, 2019

As joint replacement procedures such as hip, knee and shoulder arthroplasty become more and more popular each year, regional patients are turning to Rothman Orthopaedic Institute as the leader in innovative orthopedic surgeries. Certainly, hip and knee replacements are more common with over 900,000 Americans having those joints replaced each year. However, shoulder replacements are not far behind, helping more than 50,000 U.S. patients regain shoulder strength and mobility annually.

You may be asking: how do I know if I need total shoulder replacement? The first qualifying factor is pain. The primary and most immediate goal of a shoulder arthroplasty surgery is pain relief for the patient. Due to arthritic wear and tear, the compromised cartilage of the shoulder may be subjecting the joint to bone-on-bone interaction. This can become very painful and is often only corrected by replacing the entire joint.

Of course, though, not every instance of pain requires joint replacement. A second factor involved is the need to restore motion. If you have experienced a significant change in lifestyle and are no longer able to participate in the activities you love due to a lack of mobility in your shoulder, then you may be a perfect candidate for total shoulder replacement.

How Do I Know if I Need Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

3 Common Reasons for Shoulder Arthroplasty
1. Arthritis of the shoulder joint: Most often occurring in patients over the age of 50, this degenerative condition causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint as protective cartilage wears down over the years. Your doctor may first recommend anti-inflammatory medication, but if that, combined with other non-surgical treatment options, do not result in pain relief or improved mobility, then it may be time to seriously consider the benefits of total shoulder replacement. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common reasons that patients have this procedure.
2. Fractures: In the case of severe injury, the head (or ball) of the arm bone can be damaged so badly that it cannot be restored and therefore must be replaced. Depending upon the health of the clavicle (the socket portion of the shoulder joint), a surgeon may recommend a partial or total shoulder replacement to replace the broken bone, stabilize the joint and restore function.
3. Rotator Cuff Tear: A rotator cuff tear happens when a patient sustains an injury to one of the four muscles that wrap around the upper portion of the arm bone. These muscles are essential for providing stability in the shoulder joint and when long-term tears are left unaddressed, arthritis can result. Over time, the joint suffers due to lack of stability and the onset of arthritis. A shoulder replacement may be recommended.
If your case does not match one of the above mentioned conditions, you may still be wondering, “How do I know if I need total shoulder replacement surgery?” If that is the case, it’s time to call Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and set up an appointment to see one of the country’s top orthopedic specialists. You’ll have x-rays taken or your physician may order a CT scan or MRI in order to best determine the condition of your shoulder joint and assess your need for joint replacement.

The Patient Checklist

The best way to determine if you need shoulder replacement is to see a qualified physician. However, in the mean time, use this checklist below to grade your condition. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions listed here, you should plan to talk seriously with your orthopedic physician about the possibility of shoulder arthroplasty.
  • Is your shoulder pain consistent and severe and does it interfere with your ability to perform normal, daily activities?
  • Do you even experience moderate/severe pain while resting? For example, does your shoulder pain ever keep you awake at night?
  • Have you already tried other non-operative treatments with no success?
For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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