Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Shoulder joint replacement surgery (also called shoulder arthroplasty) involves replacing the shoulder joint with artificial parts. Although not as common as replacement surgeries for the knee or hip joints, this operation can effectively ease pain from shoulder arthritis or degenerative joint disease, helping you get back your range of motion and back to regular activities.
Why are Shoulder Replacement Surgeries Performed?
Shoulder replacement surgery is used when the head of the humerus bone (ball) and the glenoid (socket) are damaged. The damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components, called a prosthesis.
- The most common condition that results in shoulder joint replacement is osteoarthritis. When a joint is affected by arthritis, the cartilage wears away over time, causing the bones to rub against one another. The result is stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint that can be treated non-surgically at first, but eventually joint replacement surgery may be needed to relieve the shoulder pain.
- Chronic inflammation of the joints, known as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is another cause for shoulder replacement surgery. Often times, RA leads to severe shoulder pain that interferes with daily activities, such as dressing and bathing.
- In some cases, arthritis can occur in a shoulder that has a rotator cuff tear and has been present for many years. This kind of arthritis is called rotator cuff arthropathy and can lead to a painful shoulder and is often associated with limited strength and range of motion.
- A shoulder fracture or other past shoulder injury may also lead to painful arthritis.
- Osteonecrosis, also known as aseptic necrosis, is caused by a disruption of the blood flow to the bone which damages the shoulder joint. Those who have a history of, chronic steroid use, severe fracture of the shoulder, sickle cell disease, deep sea diving, or heavy alcohol use are at a higher risk of developing this condition that could result in shoulder replacement surgery.
How do you know it’s time to consider joint replacement?
People who have painful osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, with visible joint degradation (moderate to severe) are good candidates for total shoulder replacement. Patients who consider a shoulder replacement report the following symptoms:
- Moderate to severe pain during shoulder activity
- Limited ability to perform daily tasks, such as bathing, putting on a coat, lifting ten pounds, usual work or sports activity, or reaching for items on high shelves
- Difficulty sleeping due to shoulder pain
- Stiffness and pain with overhead movement
- Inadequate pain relief from nonsurgical treatments, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, and/or steroid injections
In addition, patients who have had previous arthroscopic surgery that was unsuccessful or patients who have a broken shoulder bone(s) are also good candidates for joint replacement surgery.
Shoulder Replacement Options
Our orthopedic surgeons will review your specific needs to determine if one of the following procedures would work best for you.
- Partial replacement (arthroplasty), where only the arthritis on the humeral head is replaced with a metal part (prosthesis). This option is most commonly used either after a fracture of the shoulder where the blood supply to the ball portion (humeral head) of the humerus is damaged or in some young patients with arthritis.
- Total replacement (arthroplasty), where both the humeral head and the glenoid (socket) are replaced. The humeral head is typically replaced with a metal prosthesis and the socket is replaced with a special plastic prosthesis.
- Canal-sparing replacement, which is a recent advancement in the design of shoulder replacements that can lead to faster recovery to full activity for many patients. One such design is the use of a stemless or canal-sparing replacement for the humeral head. Products such as the Tornier SIMPLICITI™ Shoulder System or the Catalyst CSR™ Shoulder System, are less invasive, help preserve as much bone as possible, and move more like a normal shoulder should.
Learn more about Dr. Chin using the catalyst implant in shoulder replacement surgery.
- Reverse shoulder replacement (reverse shoulder arthroplasty), which involves switching the positions of the socket and metal ball. This option is only for use in certain situations, which you can learn about on our reverse shoulder replacement page.
At Sterling Ridge Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our team of shoulder specialists including Drs. William M. Hayes, Keith Johnson, Paul C. Chin and Mark Eilers will evaluate your shoulder arthritis and determine if you are a good candidate for a shoulder replacement.
Dr. Chin has presented his research in total shoulder replacements at National and International meetings and is the author of several shoulder replacement articles including one in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery published in 2015. Request an appointment at our locations in Spring or The Woodlands if you’d like to have your shoulder evaluated.
After surgery, you will meet with the SROSM physical therapy team to begin your rehabilitation program, which could include standard physical therapy and/or aquatic therapy. Most people experience improved shoulder function after this surgery and therapy treatments. You may be involved in a progressive physical therapy program for two to four months after surgery to ensure the best results from your artificial joint. After your healing has progressed, you may only need to check in with your therapist every few weeks.
You can learn more about shoulder joint replacement surgery by downloading our educational document A Patient's Guide to Artificial Joint Replacement of the Shoulder.