Summer Fun in RecoveryAs we grow older, or participate in high impact activities, our bodies naturally experience wear and tear. Sometimes, this wear and tear can lead to significant damage to the joints, causing them to become stiff, swollen, or painful. When it comes to the shoulder joint, this can be especially debilitating, as it is one of the most frequently used joints in the body. For those with severe shoulder damage, traditional treatments like physical therapy and pain medications may not be enough to alleviate symptoms. In these cases, shoulder replacement surgery may be recommended.

If you are suffering from a shoulder injury, Dr. Michael Rytel and his practice provide comprehensive, one-on-one care to diagnose and provide you with the best possible treatment needed to get you and your body back on track.

Here is how to know if it is time for a shoulder replacement.

What Is A Shoulder Replacement?

Shoulder replacements, also known as shoulder arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure where a diseased or damaged shoulder joint is replaced with an artificial joint device. The artificial joint itself typically consists of a glenoid component (which replaces the socket part of the joint) and a humeral component (which replaces the ball-shaped head of the upper arm bone). The components can be made from a variety of materials, such as metal, plastic, or ceramic, and are designed to mimic the natural movement and structure of the shoulder joint.

Total shoulder replacement surgery is typically reserved for cases where traditional treatments like medication and physical therapy have not been effective in reducing pain or restoring function, and where the damage to the joint is severe enough to require surgical intervention. While shoulder replacement surgery can be an effective means of treating joint degeneration, it is important to note that the procedure is a major surgery with risks and potential complications and should be carefully discussed with a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions.

Why Would A Shoulder Need Replaced?

There are several reasons why a shoulder joint might need to be replaced, but one of the most common is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time, causing the bones to rub against each other. This can result in pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the affected joint, and can eventually lead to significant joint damage. Other conditions that may lead to shoulder replacement surgery include,

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Torn or damaged tendons
  • Shoulder impingement 
  • Traumatic injury to the shoulder joint
  • Shoulder deformity, or as part of cancer treatment.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo shoulder replacement surgery should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider, who can help evaluate the individual's specific condition and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment

How To Know If You Need A Replacement

If you are experiencing chronic shoulder pain or stiffness, it may be a sign that your shoulder joint needs to be replaced. Other symptoms of joint degeneration can include a popping or grinding sensation when moving the shoulder, weakness in the arm or shoulder, and limited range of motion. In some cases, the shoulder may also appear visibly deformed or swollen. It is important to note, however, that not all shoulder pain requires surgical intervention. Many cases can be effectively managed using non-surgical methods, such as physical therapy, medications, or lifestyle modifications.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. In some cases, this may include a referral to an orthopedic specialist who can evaluate the need for shoulder replacement surgery.

What To Expect During Surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery typically involves several steps.

  • First, the patient will be given either general or regional anesthesia to ensure they are comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.
  • Next, the surgeon will make an incision into the shoulder to expose the damaged joint. They will then remove the damaged bone and cartilage, making sure to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible.
  • Once the joint has been prepared, the artificial joint device will be implanted. The glenoid component (socket part of the joint) is typically fixed to the shoulder blade using screws, while the humeral component (ball-shaped head of the upper arm bone) is inserted into the humerus bone.
  • Finally, the incision will be closed using stitches or staples, and a dressing will be applied to the area. The entire procedure typically takes several hours to complete.
  • After the surgery, the patient will be moved to a recovery room where they will be monitored closely for any signs of complications. Pain medication, as well as antibiotics to prevent infection, may be administered as needed.

In most cases you can expect to go home the same day as your surgery. However, for some a one night stay in the hospital is necessary. A program of physical therapy will likely be initiated to help the patient regain strength and mobility in the shoulder joint.

What Happens After Surgery?

After shoulder replacement surgery, it is common to experience some pain and discomfort, as well as swelling and stiffness in the affected area. To manage these symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medication or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen. They may also recommend cold compresses or ice packs to help reduce swelling. In addition to pain management, physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process after shoulder replacement surgery. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a tailored program of exercises designed to help you regain strength and mobility in the affected shoulder.

Over time, with diligent physical therapy and appropriate care, most patients are able to fully regain function in their shoulder joint and resume their normal activities. However, it is important to remember that the recovery process can take several months and that individual outcomes may vary.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your progress closely and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan along the way. It is important to consistently communicate with your doctor regarding your injury to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your body.

If you are suffering from shoulder pain or are possibly in need of shoulder replacement, contact board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Rytel at Michael Rytel M.D. Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine for the best patient-centered care or schedule a free consultation directly from our website today.