When Pain Hits Your Shoulder

Over 53,000 people in the United States get Total Shoulder Replacements

After trying all the nonsurgical treatments for relieving pain, it’s a very common surgery to replace the shoulder (otherwise known as, the Ball and Socket joint). One of the most successful surgeries performed today, total shoulder replacement surgery has a very high rate of positive outcomes and improved recovery with a smooth adjustment into daily life. Although shoulder joint replacement is less common than knee or hip replacement, it is just as effective in relieving joint pain when patients are "bone on bone."

In the 1950s doctors in the US came up with a way to treat severe shoulder fractures. One of the procedures was to perform a partial shoulder replacement. Over the years, technologic improvements and advances in implant designs for shoulder replacements have allowed expanding their use for many other painful conditions of the shoulder, such as different forms of arthritis.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, over 53,000 people each year have total shoulder replacement surgery, whereas, more than 900,000 Americans have knee and hip replacement surgery.

So, when the medications wear off and other procedures just don’t seem to help, you may want to consider surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a proven, safe and effective method to relieve pain and help you get back into your daily regimen.

Ever played tennis, golf or swimming and had to stop because it was too painful for your shoulder?

Your shoulder is unique because it has the greatest range of motion than all of the joints in your body. The joint is literally a ball-and-socket. It is supported by several muscles and other structures, such as ligaments, tendons, and capsular tissue, that properly position and stabilize the joint, allowing it to move freely. Also referred to as the rotator cuff, these muscles and tendons give the shoulder joint the stability and support it needs. But, when something’s wrong, the pain can be sharp and piercing, bringing that tennis or golf game to an abrupt halt.

The main bones in the shoulder are made up of your upper arm bone (the proximal humerus), your socket and shoulder blade (glenoid and scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint: The ball, or head, of your upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid.

The surfaces of the bones are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that shields the bones, reduces frictions, absorbs force and gives them easy movement. A thin tissue lining called synovium covers all remaining surfaces inside the shoulder joint. In a healthy shoulder, this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and eliminates almost any friction in your shoulder.

Total shoulder replacement surgery simply resurfaces the existing bones in order to replace the upper bone head with a new ball and socket, so that patients are no longer "bone on bone," thereby, reducing pain and stiffness, and improving motion and functional and recreational activities. Recovery time is minimal, certain restrictions are required in the beginning, but as you progress through the recovery phases, those restrictions are gradually lifted. But you may require physical therapy to aid in the ability for your body to accept the new hardware and have you functioning good as new, without the pain.

Depending on the physical exam and imaging findings of your shoulder, you may be eligible for a traditional shoulder replacement, or a reverse shoulder replacement, which reverses the anatomic structure of the ball and socket joint. Certain situations call for different types of implants. Talk to our shoulder specialists to see which one is right for you.

Ask your primary doctor for a referral to see our shoulder specialist, or call The Orthopaedic, Sports, Spine and Pain Center (OSSP): (714) 861-4888 which specializes in this type of orthopedic surgery.