Injuries And Advanced Arthritis: Reasons For Shoulder Replacement Surgery


Shoulder replacement surgery is less common than knee or hip replacement, but orthopedists perform many of these operations every year. A severe injury to the shoulder or serious arthritis may cause a need for this surgery to relieve pain and allow the arm to regain function. Quality of life is impaired when someone must deal with this type of problem.

Relevant Statistics

Every year, some 53,000 people in the United States have a shoulder replacement operation. In contrast, U.S. doctors perform more than 900,000 hip and knee replacement operations annually. For most individuals, the knees and hips experience a great deal more wear and tear over the years. There are exceptions to this, though.


Shoulder injuries cause immediate and acute pain. Joint fractures and rotator cuff tears may require replacement surgery, depending on the severity of the damage. Rotator cuff tears can happen when a person does strenuous activity, such as trying to move a heavy object by pulling it. Sometimes a rotator cuff tear is irreparable without replacement because the joint would always be unstable.   


Arthritis develops slowly, with increasing stiffness and discomfort. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause physical damage to the joint over time. Eventually, men and women with these conditions may benefit from replacement surgery.

People who use one or both shoulder joints strenuously and repeatedly are at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis there. Playing tennis regularly or league baseball are examples. Workers who must do heavy lifting on the job are at increased risk. Genetics also has a role in whether a person might develop severe osteoarthritis in the shoulders but not in the knees or hips.

Frozen Shoulder

A related problem is when a person avoids using the arthritic joint because of stiffness and discomfort. Without enough movement, stiffness escalates until the shoulder has limited mobility. This condition is commonly called frozen shoulder and is medically known as adhesive capsulitis. Physical therapy helps loosen the stiff joint, and a doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid injection. Some patients, though, need surgery because arthritis has progressed so much.


Doctors providing joint replacement surgery services carefully evaluate each patient to determine whether this procedure is advisable. If so, the operation is scheduled as soon as possible.

With a new artificial joint, the person no longer endures pain and stiffness when moving the arm. Reaching overhead is easy once again. Healing may take up to six months. Patients should achieve full strength and range of motion within a year if they follow their physical therapy program. 

Reach out to a joint replacement service for more information.


26 February 2021

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