Often the first clues are pain, limited range of motion in the arm and loss of strength. The arthritic process that renders the shoulder weak and painful occurs over time and may have been precipitated by a wearing down of cartilage that covers the bone surfaces, a tear in the rotator cuff (a tendon surrounding the shoulder joint) or necrosis (dead tissue) in bone from a loss in blood supply to bone. These situations, often occurring decades in the past may have resulted from a work-related event contact or other sports, an automobile accident or from rheumatoid arthritis itself.
A shoulder replacement implant consists of three parts: A new socket (glenoid) that is implanted within the shoulder blade (scapula) A new ‘ball’ to replace the head of the top of the arm bone (humerus) A stem that secures the ball within the arm bone These materials are comprised of state-of-the-art titanium or chrome cobalt stainless steel and polyethylene plastic.
Having a shoulder replaced is a major surgical procedure performed in the operating room. During this procedure, your surgeon removes damaged bone and cartilage, resurfaces the socket within your shoulder blade and replaces the ball or head of the humerus at the top of your arm bone. Learn more about shoulder replacement surgery.
Your recuperation and rehabilitation begins while you are still in the hospital and often on the same day as your surgery. Learn more about shoulder replacement rehabilitation.
The shoulder joint allows more range of motion than any other joint in the body. The cartilage that covers the bone surfaces in the joint can begin to wear down, causing stiffness and pain. Some medical conditions – inflammation or rheumatoid arthritis – also can cause this type of degeneration. Direct injury to the shoulder joint from contact sports, an accident or a fall can destabilize the joint and cause uneven wear, eventually leading to arthritis.
Patients that are younger and require joint durability, such as carpenters, drywall workers, and those working building trades, may have an early failure of the polyethylene socket and would be better candidates for partial shoulder replacement Athletes also fall into this category.
The answer depends on several factors, such as your age, physical condition and activity level. Because these devices are made with stronger materials and provide a secure fit a shoulder replacement is expected to last the remainder of patients’ lives. Most people who have a shoulder replaced are older and have fewer physical demands.