Orthopedic surgeons at Sutter Amador Hospital specialize in advanced shoulder replacement techniques that can help ease shoulder pain in people with severe arthritis. If you’ve tried alternatives to shoulder replacement without success, talk to an orthopedic specialist about this common surgery.
Total Shoulder Replacement
During a conventional total shoulder replacement, the orthopedic surgeon replaces the arthritic surfaces of the shoulder joint with a new metal ball attached to a stem. This stem fits into your humeral bone if the bone is strong, or is cemented into place with bone cement. A socket made of polyethylene plastic is cemented into the joint, so the ball can rotate and move naturally as you move your arm and shoulder. Doctors often recommend this type of shoulder replacement for people who have intact rotator cuffs and bone-on-bone arthritis.
Reverse Shoulder Replacement
Reverse shoulder placements are often recommended for people who have torn rotator cuffs. In this surgery, the socket and metal ball are switched. The orthopedic surgeon attaches the ball to the shoulder bone and the plastic socket to the arm bone. This lets people use their deltoid muscle to lift their arms (instead of their torn rotator cuff).
Partial Shoulder Replacement (Stemmed Hemiarthroplasty)
If the head of your humeral bone is damaged but the socket is normal, the orthopedic surgeon may recommend a partial shoulder replacement, also called hemiarthroplasty. The surgeon replaces just the head of your upper arm bone with a metal ball and stem. However, research shows that partial shoulder replacements aren’t as effective at easing pain as total shoulder replacements. Talk to your orthopedic specialist about the pros and cons of this procedure.
Recovering From Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Typically, shoulder replacement surgery takes about two to three hours. Most people can go home within one to three days after surgery.
Most people need a sling to support their shoulder for two to four weeks, or even up to six weeks. It’s important to arrange help during this time. Driving a car isn’t recommended until your arm is out of the sling, and you’re no longer taking pain medication.
Most shoulder replacements last at least 15 to 20 years.