A total shoulder arthroplasty, commonly called a total shoulder replacement, is a well-established surgery often performed on severely arthritic shoulders. Shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis not only reduces or eliminates the pain associated with arthritis, it also restores function to the joint.
In this blog, shoulder replacement specialist, Francis Mendoza, M.D., will explain how a total shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis works and which patients may be good candidates for this procedure.
How does arthritis affect the shoulder?
Arthritis is a degenerative condition that erodes the articulating surfaces of the joint—that is, the parts that move across each other. In the case of the shoulder, this is the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) and part of the shoulder blade (the scapula).
The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket type of joint. The head of the humerus (the ball) fits into a depression on the scapula (the socket). In a healthy joint, both the ball and the socket are covered with a thin layer of smooth, slick cartilage that enables them to slide effortlessly over one another with no friction.
When the joint is affected by arthritis, this smooth cartilage erodes, leaving rough patches. When the condition is severe enough, patches of cartilage may disintegrate completely, leaving bone grinding on bone. When this happens, a total shoulder replacement may be recommended.
How does shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis work?
In simple terms, a total shoulder replacement replaces the damaged joint surfaces with artificial components. These consist of a ball with a stem as well as a socket. The procedure involves removing the damaged head of the humerus and inserting the stem of the artificial ball into the humerus, leaving only the ball protruding. The socket (the depression in the scapula that cradles the ball) is then enlarged and the artificial cup is inserted into it and secured. If there are any bone spurs in the joint, these will also be removed during the surgery, as will any soft tissue adhesions that limit the range of motion of the joint.
When the procedure is complete and proper healing and rehabilitation has occurred, you will have a smoothly functioning joint with complete range of motion.
Am I a candidate for shoulder arthroplasty?
If your arthritis is advanced but you are otherwise in good health, shoulder arthroplasty may be an option.
The best candidates for this procedure include patients who:
- Have severe shoulder arthritis
- Find that their shoulder arthritis significantly impacts their quality of life
- Have tried conservative treatments like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications without success
Patients must also be willing to be an active participant in their recovery, which requires engaging in a simple exercise program to achieve normal range of motion of the joint.
Some shoulder issues may mean that arthroplasty is not a viable solution, and some health problems may mean the procedure is less suitable for you.
In general, you may not be a good candidate if:
- You have diabetes
- You have Parkinson’s disease
- You have had multiple shoulder surgeries in the past
- You have had shoulder joint infections in the past
- You have a rotator cuff deficiency
- You have a severely altered shoulder anatomy
For shoulder arthroplasty to be successful, the rest of your shoulder must be healthy. If you’ve previously had several shoulder surgeries, or if you’ve had infections of the joint in the past, your shoulder may not be healthy enough for a joint replacement. Likewise, if you have abnormal shoulder anatomy or a rotator cuff deficiency, your shoulder may not be able to support the artificial joint.
Looking for a doctor to perform shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis in NYC?
Orthopedic shoulder surgeon, Dr. Francis Mendoza, is a leader in performing shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis when nonsurgical treatments haven’t been successful. He has helped many patients get back to their active lives, pain-free with remarkable results. If you’re considering shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis, contact Dr. Mendoza today for more details and to find out if you’re a good candidate for the procedure.