A Look At Shoulder Replacement Surgery
When most people think about joint replacement surgery, they think about the hip or the knee. While these may be the two most common types of joint replacement surgery, shoulder replacement surgery is also on the rise. Currently around 53,000 Americans have shoulder replacement surgery every single year. (SOURCE: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00094)
Shoulder replacement surgery is used for one main reason, to relieve the pain from different types of arthritis or other types of degenerative joint disease. While other problems (such as a severe fracture) may require shoulder replacement surgery, in most cases this surgery is used for patients with pain that is no longer responding to non-surgical treatments (like medication or physical therapy)While there are several different degrees of shoulder replacement surgery, the complete shoulder replacement surgery (called a total replacement surgery or total shoulder arthroplasty) focuses on replacing the damaged shoulder bone and upper end of the arm. First the surgeon removes the damaged parts and smooths the ends of the bone. Then, the surgeon replaces the ball shaped part of the upper arm bone with a long metal piece that has a metal ball at the end, which is capped by a piece of metal or plastic. In effect, the surgeon replaces the “ball” and “socket” of the shoulder.
Shoulder replacement surgeries usually take around three hours to complete. The patient is admitted the day of the surgery and usually placed under general anesthesia, although a regional anesthesia can be used when needed. After the surgery is over, your arm will be placed in a sling to support and immobilize the arm.
Once your shoulder replacement surgery is complete, it is important to complete a round of physical therapy in order to keep your muscles strong and loose. While your doctor will prescribe limited shoulder activity for the first few six weeks or so after your surgery, supervised rehabilitation usually starts right away (in some cases, the same day as the surgery). This physical therapy usually progresses from passive exercises (where a physical therapist simply moves your joints) into simple exercises that you will do both in therapy and on your own at home.
Patients of shoulder replacement surgery can expect to return home after 1-3 days in the hospital. Depending on the damage to the shoulder before the surgery, many patients find that the combination of shoulder replacement surgery and rehabilitation therapy helps them to gain up to 60% of their normal shoulder motion. In most cases, patients find that they can eventually return to some of their favorite activities, including swimming, golfing, and dancing.