If you’re about to undergo shoulder replacement surgery, you might be wondering how its usually done. You might also have some questions in mind, like what materials are used and whatnot. Or maybe you’re here because you’re just curious how its done and its sparked your interest. Either way, it will be nice to know how shoulder replacement surgery goes, right? Here we find out.
Your shoulder consists of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The human shoulder is a ball-and-socket type of joint, just like the hip bone. The ball of your upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade called the glenoid. It is this type of anatomy that makes it possible for both your shoulder and arm to be able to execute a lot of actions.
A conventional shoulder replacement procedure aims to mimic the normal anatomy of the shoulder. Hence, the actual procedure involves replacing the damaged humeral head with a metal ball. Then, the surgeon places a new smooth plastic surface on the glenoid. This use of metal on plastic surfaces is the hallmark of virtually all shoulder replacement implant systems. Surgeons also recommend partial shoulder replacement which involves replacement of the ball component only. In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the surgeon switches the socket and metal ball instead. The surgeon then places the metal ball to the socket and the plastic cup is fixed to the upper end of the humerus.
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend that you undergo shoulder replacement surgery. People who benefit from surgery often have:
- Severe shoulder pain that interferes with everyday activities, such as reaching into a cabinet, dressing, toileting, and washing.
- Moderate to severe pain that prevents a good night’s sleep.
- Loss of motion and/or weakness in the shoulder.
- Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as pain medications and/or physical therapy.
Most patients must have a complete physical exam performed by their primary care doctor before surgery though. This is needed to make sure you are healthy enough to recover after the procedure. Patients with chronic medical conditions, like heart diseases and diabetes, must also be evaluated by a specialists prior to surgery.
In one of your pre-op consults, be sure to talk to your orthopedic surgeon about the medications that you are currently taking. Some medications, such as blood thinners or anticoagulants, should be discontinued weeks before surgery. After the procedure, medications and antibiotics are also provided for the pain and to prevent infections, respectively. Some other meds may be given, depending on your medical history.
The primary goal of shoulder replacement surgery is pain relief, only with a secondary benefit of restoring motion, strength, and function. The procedure also aims to resume a patients activity level to near normal as possible. Every year, Orthopedic Surgeons perform thousands of these procedures successfully in the United States. You should really consider it too, especially if you are a good candidate. We have the best Orthopedic Surgeons here, by the way. Feel free to browse!