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Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder replacement surgery otherwise shoulder arthroplasty, is a surgery involving the replacement of the damaged upper end of the arm bone humerus ( ball) and the shoulder bone socket namely glenoid (socket) with a prosthesis. This method is usually recommended for patients suffering from severe shoulder arthritis whose joint functionality is restricted due to acute pain.

Depending upon the damage caused to the patient’s shoulders, the surgery can be performed as a partial shoulder replacement surgery or the total shoulder replacement surgery. If both the ball and the socket are replaced with an artificial implant, then the surgery can be termed as total shoulder replacement surgery or total shoulder arthroscopy. If only the ball or the socket is replaced, then the surgery is called partial or hemi arthroscopy or simply, the partial shoulder replacement surgery.

General or regional anesthesia is given to the patient who undergoes this replacement surgery.The surgery only requires two hours of time and a hospitalization period of 1- 3 days. However, estimated time period of 3-6 weeks is required for the arm to show some movement. Full recovery might need over an year or less with proper care.

Who should be recommended for a shoulder Replacement Surgery?

The most common reason for considering an shoulder replacement surgery is severely damaged shoulder joint , making the movement of arm restricted. Patients with badly broken bones near the shoulder, damaged or torn shoulder tissues are the other susceptible groups.Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are also recommended for this replacement. Other indication for shoulder replacement can be the presence of tumor in shoulder or failure of previous shoulder surgery. However, replacement options are only considered for patients who had tried and failed alternative methods of pain reliefs.

What tests are required to confirm the need for the surgery?

The diagnosis for a shoulder replacement surgery include physical examination of shoulder joints, by the surgeon. The surgeon visualizes the X-ray reports and then determines the exact location of the damage and depending upon the damage, suggests either partial or total shoulder arthroscopy.

What are the risks involved?

One of the risks associated with the replacement is the formation of the blood clots. In certain cases , there occurs infection at the site of surgery, which in turn may lead to the requirement of reoperation. Other risks associated with the surgery are fracture, loosening of the new implants, or dislocation.

What would be the average life of the implants ?

The average life of the artificial shoulder implants ranges from 8-10 years or longer depending on lifestyle of the patient, stress put on the joints and care given.Good routine of physical exercises with the shoulders, help in increased life of the implants. However, by the passage of time, the implants tend to loosen up leading to revision surgery.

How worthwhile would be the elbow implant?

After the surgery, with the implanted prosthesis and physical therapy , one can expect a relief from chronic pain of joints. The arms can experience a natural motion upto certain extent. One can carry out their routine activities with hands eventually , with much comfort.


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