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Shoulder Replacement Surgery: What to Know?

by Gauri Kolhe

Compared to other joints in your body, the shoulder has the greatest range of motion with respect to rotation. Shoulder replacement surgery may be recommended if it’s causing you much discomfort. Say, you’re unable to sleep or experiencing additional symptoms. This surgery may reduce the amount of pain you are experiencing and boost your mobility.

What is shoulder replacement surgery all about?

In this surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder joint are replaced with artificial components known as prostheses.  The surgical process is designed to provide pain relief, enhance your strength, broaden your range of motion, and restore your ability to utilize your arm and shoulder.

Is shoulder replacement surgery a good option for you?

With your family, your doctor, and your orthopaedic surgeon working together, you can make an informed choice about undergoing this surgery.

Patients who are likely to benefit from this surgery mostly have:

  • Severe discomfort in the shoulder that makes daily actions difficult or impossible, such as reaching into a cabinet, dressing, using the toilet, or cleaning oneself.
  • Pain ranges from moderate to severe even while at rest. This discomfort may be strong enough to prohibit you from getting decent sleep.
  • The shoulder may experience a loss of mobility and weakness.
  • Various therapies, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, and physical therapy, significantly improve the patient’s condition.

Why is it carried out?

A patient with joint dysfunction may be eligible for a shoulder replacement. This is often the consequence of avascular necrosis, rotator cuff tear arthropathy, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or (very infrequently) for people who have received a severe fracture due to a fall or other kind of trauma. In most cases, the first focus is placed on exploring other potential treatment methods, such as medicine and physical therapy.

Reconstructive surgeries for the shoulders

Your doctor may recommend shoulder replacement if you have sustained certain types of joint injury, including the following types of damage to joints:

  • Surgically-guided total shoulder arthroplasty: The ball and the socket are both subjected to replacement. The implants have a shape analogous to the bone’s natural form.
  • Reverse shoulder complete replacement: In this procedure, the ball and the socket are replaced, but the implants are done in the opposite order. The shoulder blade is the attachment point for the ball, while the upper arm bone is the attachment point for the socket. This treatment method is often recommended if the rotator cuff has suffered an extensive injury.
  • Partially replaced shoulder: The only part of the joint that is changed is the head, often known as the ball. When just the ball side of the joint is injured, it may be suggested to go this route.

What do you need to be anticipating?

Before beginning the process

Be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions on how to take care of yourself the day before and the day of surgery, including how to bathe, eat, and take any medications.

The possible risks and problems of shoulder joint replacement will be discussed with you by your orthopaedic surgeon. These risks and complications will include those directly connected to the shoulder replacement surgery and those that may develop in the future after the operation.

If difficulties arise, the majority can be effectively treated.

While carrying out the operation

You’ll discuss the method for sedating you before the operation. Patients get both general anaesthetic and a nerve block. You’ll fall asleep throughout the procedure. Your shoulder will go numb due to the nerve block, allowing pain management to continue even after you come from the general anaesthetic.

After completion of the operation

Following surgery, you need to spend some time in the recovery area. The patient will have an X-ray examination. If instructed otherwise, you should refrain from moving your shoulder.

How exactly does one get a shoulder replacement?

During a conventional shoulder replacement procedure, the damaged humeral head is removed, and a metal ball is implanted in its place. At the same time, a cup made of smooth plastic is inserted into the glenoid cavity, which serves as the joint socket.

Instead of the more conventional metal-on-metal implant procedure, this metal-on-plastic implant method is used in almost all shoulder replacement surgeries in the modern era. Some patients, such as those who have sustained significant fractures to the humeral head of the shoulder, may be candidates for a partial shoulder replacement, also known as hemi replacement.  Simply changing out the ball component is required to complete this procedure.

Recovery time

The length of recovery differs from person to person and is determined by the procedure. Following surgery, you should use your arm for waist-level or below task. You can slowly dress up and eat during the first week. Take your time and drive carefully.


Joint replacement surgery is a process that is both safe and successful in relieving pain and assisting patients in returning to their normal activities.

Continuous attempts to design and create novel shoulder replacements that are superior to those now available can be carried out using less intrusive surgical procedures.

In addition, researchers are gathering information to establish which individuals are the most suitable candidates for each of the several types of shoulder replacement surgery.

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