Starting the Conversation About Surgery for Total Shoulder Replacement

Joseph A. Abboud, MD December 8th, 2014

You probably did not spend too much time thinking about your shoulder and how it works until something went wrong.  Whether it was because of a distinct injury or just increasing pain and stiffness over time, you have become acutely aware of your shoulder because it is making your life more difficult than it used to be. The bending, reaching, and lifting motions that once came easily are now a challenge or perhaps impossible. These changes have left you wondering: what has gone wrong with your shoulder?  And, even more importantly, what are your options to reduce pain and regain your normal function? 

From repairing partial tears to performing surgery for total shoulder replacement, at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, our specialists spend every day helping people like you restore their shoulders. So, we know what you shoulder is supposed to be doing, and how to help you get back to that easy, pain-free motion. Let us share some of our knowledge and maybe even start a conversation with your doctor about surgery that could help restore your shoulder. 
How is the Shoulder Supposed to Work?
Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint.  The ball, or head of the humerus, can move and rotate with the socket within your shoulder, also called the glenoid.  Four muscles, called the rotator cuff, work together to help your shoulder joint move.  But, even as the muscles allow your shoulder to move, they also keep it in place.  You have probably heard of a dislocated shoulder; your rotator cuff muscles, as well as several ligaments and an O”-ring “called the labrum, work together to keep it located!   When all of these muscles, ligaments, and bones are healthy and intact, your shoulder is able to do amazing things, rotating, lifting, and flexing. 
What Can Cause Shoulder Injuries? 
As with any moving part in the body, any number of different things can go wrong. However, with the shoulder, some maladies are more common than others. First and foremost, over time, arthritis may form in socket area of the shoulder, causing pain and stiffness. Bone spurs can also form on the acromion, a bone just on top of the actual joint. If you are in a job or sport that requires repetitive overhead motion, one of the muscles of your rotator cuff may be at risk for injury. Other accidents and degenerative conditions can leave you injured in ways that affect the functionality of your shoulder or lead to a great deal of pain. 
When Is Total Replacement Surgery an Option? 
When something goes wrong in your shoulder, although you may feel like you want a brand new one, surgery for total shoulder replacement is usually more of a last resort.  Often, with physical therapy, medication, or a period of immobility, your shoulder is able to heal well.   
However, if you have tried these methods and others suggested by your doctor, but the pain or stiffness still remain, then you may be a candidate for total shoulder replacement surgery.  Every case is different, though, so it is important that you talk to your physician about your shoulder as well as your overall health and wellbeing, which will factor in to your qualification for this operation. 
What Does Surgery for Total Shoulder Replacement Involve? 
Surgery for total shoulder replacement involves both the ball and socket.  These are removed and and replaced with a metal ball and plastic socket, respectively.  Both of these implants are securely attached to the surround, healthy bones.  After you have healed from  your surgery, you can expect to experience significantly decreased pain, as well as greater mobility.  Without damaged bone or cartilage to hold you back, you will be amazed at the difference you experience! 
Where Should I Seek Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery? 
If your doctor recommends that you seek surgery for total, or even partial, shoulder replacement, turn to the specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute for service and experience you can trust.  Our shoulder specialists focus exclusively on this area of the body, allowing them to gain the experience and expertise necessary to provide you with the best possible results.   In addition to surgical excellence, you will also find our surgeons compassionate and trustworthy. 
We are dedicated to your comfort and satisfaction from your first consultation to your final appointment. 

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