Talking With A Bone Specialist

3 Reasons A Total Shoulder Replacement Might Be The Answer

A shoulder replacement involves removing the ball and socket portion of the shoulder joint and replacing it with a metal ball and socket. There are certain circumstances where a total joint replacement may be the right decision.

Severe Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder joint, with osteoarthritis being the most common. In the earlier stages of arthritis, pain relievers and physical therapy might be enough to keep pain at bay and maintain mobility. Unfortunately, as the condition progresses, people may experience a wide variety of symptoms that compromises their mobility. As the cartilage separating the ball and socket degenerates, the bones begin to rub against each other, creating pain and inflammation. At this point, some people receive joint injections that temporarily reduce or alleviate pain, but they may not work indefinitely. There may be issues with the joint "catching" on bone spurs or the rough surface of the joint. When pain becomes serious and interferes with sleep, this may be the point where a joint replacement is considered.

Rotator Cuff Damage

Rotator cuff damage can be caused by an acute injury, such as lifting a heavy object over your head or a fall. Your rotator cuff includes both muscles and tendons attached to the shoulder. Depending on the severity of the tear and the number of tears, the first step may be repair. Since tendons do not regenerate, repair can be difficult, and replacing the tendons with a donor's tendon from elsewhere in the body might produce a better outcome. When a previous repair or replacement is ineffective, a joint replacement might be considered.

Chronic Dislocation

Since the shoulder is a shallow joint, it is already more vulnerable to dislocation. Another consequence of damage to the rotator cuff may be chronic dislocations. People who experience chronic dislocations may notice they are more likely to occur when they reach overhead. This occurs because of laxity in the tendons responsible for keeping the joint stable. Sometimes the only option to prevent future dislocations is to totally replace the joint.

There are two ways the joint can be replaced, depending on your exact problems. A traditional shoulder replacement involves replacing the ball and socket in their traditional location. Sometimes a reverse should replacement is warranted. In this procedure, the replacements swap places. A reverse replacement may be warranted to place less strain on the rotator cuff and movement of the shoulder is more controlled by the deltoid muscle, which is located on the back of the shoulder.

In many instances, pain relievers and prescribed exercises can reduce the impact of shoulder damage on your lifestyle. When there is substantial injury to the shoulder or arthritis makes use of the shoulder too painful or impossible, a total joint replacement might be the best option.