Although shoulder joint replacement is less common than knee or hip replacement, it is just as successful in relieving joint pain. Shoulder replacement surgery was first performed in the United States in the 1950s to treat severe shoulder fractures. Over the years, shoulder joint replacement has come to be used for many other painful conditions of the shoulder, such as different forms of arthritis.
Today, about 53,000 people in the U.S. have shoulder replacement surgery each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This compares to more than 900,000 Americans a year who have knee and hip replacement surgery.
If nonsurgical treatments like medications and activity changes are no longer helpful for relieving pain, you may want to consider shoulder joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain and help you resume everyday activities.
Shoulder Replacement Options
Shoulder replacement surgery is highly technical. It should be performed by a surgical team with experience in this procedure. There are different types of shoulder replacements. Your surgeon will evaluate your situation carefully before making any decisions. He or she will discuss with you which type of replacement would best meet your health needs.
Total Shoulder Replacement
The typical total shoulder replacement involves replacing the arthritic joint surfaces with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem, and a plastic socket.
Depending on the condition of your shoulder, your surgeon may replace only the ball. This procedure is called a hemiarthroplasty. In a traditional hemiarthroplasty, the head of the humerus is replaced with a metal ball and stem, similar to the component used in a total shoulder replacement. This is called a stemmed hemiarthroplasty.
Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty involves replacing just the joint surface of the humeral head with a cap-like prosthesis without a stem. With its bone preserving advantage, it offers those with arthritis of the shoulder an alternative to the standard stemmed shoulder replacement.
Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
Another type of shoulder replacement is called reverse total shoulder replacement. Reverse total shoulder replacement is used for people who have:
• Completely torn rotator cuffs with severe arm weakness
• The effects of severe arthritis and rotator cuff tearing (cuff tear arthropathy)
• Had a previous shoulder replacement that failed