An Uncommon Joint Replacement
Having damaged or degraded joints can put a damper on anyone’s life. That’s why more than 600,000 persons visit surgeons to opt for joint replacements each year. While hip and knee replacements are common, more and more persons require total shoulder replacement. This uncommon yet helpful surgery can reduce pain and improve range of motion.
Why shoulder surgery?
The shoulder, like the hip, forms a ball-and-socket joint that helps the limb swing and rotate. Sometimes, the cartilage and bone can degrade due to wear and tear or because of conditions like osteoarthritis. A total shoulder replacement seeks to replace the joint with prosthetics. Surgery is best for those suffering from pain to the extent that moving the affected arm is difficult. Furthermore, surgery is best when non-surgical treatment has continually failed. Most of all, a weakened joint puts pressure on the rotator cuff.
Preparing for surgery
Preparation starts even before surgery. The patient must be medically cleared for surgery first. A patient may be unable to have surgery if there is extensive damage to the rotator cuff, shoulder muscles, or shoulder socket. Eligible patients must reduce medications, smoking, and alcohol use in the weeks before surgery. Some doctors even suggest physical therapy in the weeks leading up to surgery.
Starting your surgery by accessing the damage
With the patient physically ready, the surgery occurs on the scheduled day and can last as long as 3 hours. After taking the patient’s vitals, the medical team administers general anesthesia. The patient may receive either open surgery or minimally invasive surgery. With open surgery, the surgeon starts at the top of the shoulder, running along the deltoid muscle. Minimally invasive surgery uses much smaller incisions on the shoulder. By cutting through tissue, including part of the rotator cuff, the surgeon accesses the arm bone and glenoid socket. With MIS, this may not be necessary. From there, the surgeon can work on replacing the degraded bone.
Working to the bone
The surgeon will dislocate the upper arm bone, or humerus, from the socket. Next, special tools help the surgeon to remove the damaged head of the humerus. Before then, the surgeon may remove any bone spurs around the humerus. Another tool helps smooth the glenoid socket to prepare for the prosthetic ball. With the bones ready, the surgeon can now install the prosthetic parts.
Setting up the prosthetics
The surgeon will install 2 prosthetic pieces. The prosthetic humeral head goes first, with the stem placed inside the humeral bone. The surgeon may measure different sizes with a temporary ball to determine the best prosthetic. The artificial glenoid socket goes next. This part is often made of plastic or metal and designed for the head to move smoothly. Both confirmed parts are installed and held in place with a special bone compound. The surgeon tests the new components before repairing any affected tissue and closing the incisions.
Wrapping up your surgery
After surgery, the patient will head into recovery. For minimally invasive procedures, the patient will be able to leave the same day. After surgery, extensive physical therapy can help strengthen the new shoulder and help with range of motion. The surgery has a high success rate but is not without risk. Typical risk factors include infection, blood clots, and a possible damaged rotator cuff. There’s also a small chance of prosthetic misalignment or dislocation. Make sure to ask detailed questions about any risk concerns.
Consider total shoulder replacement today
Shoulder surgery is a serious procedure that many patients try to avoid. However, by waiting longer, the shoulder suffers further damage. Furthermore, the rotator cuff can tear, making joint surgery impossible. Surgery is safe, effective, and long-lasting. By following up with proper physical therapy, a new shoulder brings a new lease on life. Speak with a family doctor or orthopedic surgeon about total shoulder replacement today.
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