Shoulder arthroplasty

Like the hip and knee, the shoulder joint may become arthritic and painful as people age. Associated conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and events such as a traumatic injury or rotator cuff tear, may speed the degenerative process.

Shoulder arthroplasty is a successful, pain-relieving option for many people. During the procedure, the humeral head andglenoid are replaced with metal and plastic components to alleviate pain and improve function. Arthroplasty is usually done only after more conservative treatments (such as physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) have failed. Rather, the decision to proceed with shoulder arthroplasty should be agreed upon by both patient and doctor. In some cases, arthroplasty may be the only option that relieves pain and allows the patient to regain better function.

Shoulder arthroplasty is probably underutilized as a treatment for shoulder arthritis. This could be because physicians who are not specialized shoulder orthopaedic surgeons are less aware that shoulder replacement surgery is an option for their patients. In any case, the number of shoulder replacement procedures will likely increase as the population ages.


How long might a shoulder replacement last? What should a patient expect to gain?
There is data of a 93% survivorship of the prosthesis at 10 years and 87% at 15 years. Also, relief from moderate or severe pain is achieved in 83% of shoulders at an ave. follow-up of 10 years. Active abduction (the ability to raise the arm to the side) improves by an average of 40 degrees to an ave. of 120 degrees.

Who performs shoulder replacement surgery?
Patients may be better off visiting a shoulder specialist surgeon who sees a large volume of cases, siting that the number of times a surgical procedure is performed may have a bearing on how well it is done.