Total Shoulder Replacement (Arthroplasty)
Total shoulder arthroplasty, or total shoulder replacement, is a joint replacement surgery that is designed to treat end-stage shoulder arthritis, which is when the cartilage lining of the joint has been eroded away.
The best candidate for a total shoulder replacement is someone who has end-stage arthritis and basically has no cartilage left in their joint. For a total shoulder replacement to work well, the patient also needs to have good bone on the socket side of their joint as well as a functioning rotator cuff.
Shoulder arthritis can be treated by a number of different means, and the type of treatment that’s best for each person is dependent on how bad their symptoms are, how bad their arthritis is, and what their goals of treatment are. For less severe arthritis that is less symptomatic, treatments such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and activity modifications can be very effective. For more severe cases, a steroid injection may help provide more long-lasting relief. When all those non-operative treatment measures have failed to improve symptoms adequately, that’s when a total shoulder replacement becomes a reasonable option to consider.
Recovery from a total shoulder replacement can be variable from person to person, but it’s usually around 3-4 months before a return to full function. Range-of-motion exercises start almost immediately after surgery, and patients are allowed to use their arm in simple activities throughout their day, a couple of days after surgery.
One of my favorite things about total shoulder replacement is the great difference I see in patients’ functions. A lot of times, people will come into the office and they can barely get their arm above their head or barely reach around their back. After they’ve recovered from total shoulder replacement, they can go back to throwing a ball and doing all the things they love to do,