Similar to other joint replacement procedures, shoulder replacement surgery is generally done to address persistent pain that is not controlled by non-surgical therapy. Less commonly, poor shoulder motion may also be a reason for replacement surgery.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, with the top of the arm bone (humeral head) fitting into a socket known as the glenoid. Muscles and tendons, such as the rotator cuff, help hold the joint in place. Surgery involves replacing the humeral head and the glenoid with artificial components. The humeral head replacement is generally made from a metal alloy, while the glenoid component is made from polyethylene plastic. The new components may be anchored by cement or press-fit into place so that the bone grows in around them.
During surgery, a three- to four-inch incision is made along the space between the arm and the collarbone. The procedure lasts about 90 minutes, and the incision is then closed with staples or stitches. Patients typically stay in the hospital for one to two nights, and full recovery usually takes six to 12 weeks. For more information about surgery and recovery, please visit the Patient Care Process page.
Almost 90 percent of shoulder replacement operations are deemed successful when measured after 10 years. Surgery is generally more effective at relieving pain than restoring motion.
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