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Total shoulder replacement surgery replaces the bone surfaces of the shoulder’s ball and socket joint with a metal head (ball) attached to a stem in the upper arm (humerus) and a polyethylene plastic socket. The surgery is generally performed in cases where the cartilage becomes worn and the underlying bone develops spurs and other irregularities, which produce pain in the ball and socket joint of the shoulder and decreased range of motion in the arm.
Those who have arthritis or degenerative joint disease that makes the shoulder stiff and painful benefit from total shoulder replacement surgery. The surgery can provide complete or nearly complete pain relief in most patients. Most normal activities of daily living, including light labor and sports can be resumed after successful surgery.
What's involved? How long will I take to recover?
First, an incision is made around the shoulder joint. This incision is usually made along the side or in front of the arm. The shoulder, including muscles and tendons, is moved away to allow access to the humeral head of the joint. The head of the humerus is removed. The hollow channel inside the humerus is prepared so that the humeral stem can be fit into position.
Cement may or may not be used to secure the stem. The custom-fitted ball is secured to the end of the humeral stem. Finally, the shoulder joint is rejoined and all surrounding muscles and tendons are put back into normal position.
Hospital stays are usually one to three days in duration. Patients are generally sent home wearing a sling and should not attempt motion of the arm operated on except as directed by the surgeon. Generally patients will be given exercises to begin the healing process within a few days of the surgery. Patients can return to most normal activities within two to three months.