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Shoulder Replacement
Your surgeon has done a fine job of replacing the damaged parts of your shoulder joint. However, this does not always guarantee that you’ll be able to use your shoulder for normal activities afterward. A structured post-surgery rehab is required to bring full strength and mobility to your shoulder, and our physical therapists are happy to help you with that in the shortest time possible. Request an appointment with us right away to learn how you can recover quickly from your shoulder surgery.
What is Shoulder Replacement?
Shoulder replacement is a surgery performed to treat severe shoulder fractures and painful conditions resulting from different forms of arthritis. The damaged parts of the shoulder are replaced with artificial parts. The surgery is usually done to relieve the patient from pain, and increase mobility. Shoulder joint replacement is not as common compared to knee and hip replacement. However, 53,000 people have replacement surgery in the US every year.
Know Your Shoulder
Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. Your upper arm bone called the humerus has a ball at its tip, which fits into a shallow spot in your shoulder blade (the socket or glenoid). Ligaments, muscles, or tendons surround your shoulder to provide it with support and stability. Another layer of tissue called cartilage prevents the bones in your shoulder from rubbing against each other. The shoulder has three bones. Your upper arm bone, the collar bone, and the shoulder blade. A thin tissue called the synovial membrane covers all the remaining surfaces inside the shoulder joint.
Causes of Shoulder Replacement
Conditions that would require a shoulder replacement include:


This form of arthritis is common in persons from 50 years of age. It can also occur in younger people. What happens is that the cartilage that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other wears away.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This happens when your immune system attacks your joints. The synovial membrane covering the joints becomes inflamed. This can damage the cartilage and lead to stiffness and pain.

Post-traumatic Arthritis

This begins to develop after a shoulder injury, where fractures and tear may damage the cartilage

Avascular Necrosis

This occurs when blood is no longer supplied to the bone. This results in pain and damage

Broken bones and severe fractures

If your shoulder bone gets badly broken or fractured, then a shoulder replacement surgery is required.

Rotator cuff tear

A long-term rotator cuff tear can lead to damage of the cartilage which could cause arthritis.

Is Shoulder Replacement Right for You?
The decision for your shoulder replacement should be made by you and your surgeon. However, people that have had the most benefit from surgery are those who have
Persons that are not good candidates for shoulder replacement are:
What Shoulder Replacement Options Should I Expect?
There are three types of shoulder replacement surgeries. Your surgeon will determine which of them you will require.

Total Shoulder replacement

Here, the humeral head (ball) is replaced with a metal ball and attached to the remaining bone, while the socket (glenoid) is replaced with a plastic socket.

Partial Shoulder Replacement

If the ball is damaged, but the socket is normal, only the ball gets replaced.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

This is for people that have a severe rotator cuff tear, severe effects from arthritis, and have had a prior shoulder surgery that failed. The metal ball is attached to your shoulder bone, while the socket is attached to your upper arm bone.

The Surgery

Prior to the surgery, you must have undergone a full exam, X-ray, or MRI-scan for your surgeon to access the joint and determine if you’re healthy enough for the surgery. You may have to stop taking anti-inflammatory mediations, blood thinners, and arthritis therapies as they can cause bleeding. Since you won’t be able to drive and use your arm a couple of weeks after surgery, it’s best to get someone to assist you with driving and other chores when you return home. The procedure itself takes about 2 hours. You’ll be given anesthesia either to keep you unconscious or awake but sedated. 2-3 days after surgery, you’ll be discharged from the hospital with your arm in a sling.

Recovery for Shoulder Replacement
After surgery, you’ll be given drugs to help with the pain, because you’re certain to feel some pain thereafter. Rehabilitation starts almost immediately after surgery, as your healthcare staff wants to get you moving as soon as possible. However, a well-structured post-operative rehabilitation program is needed to strengthen your shoulders and improve flexibility. At Polygon PT, we offer physical therapy and rehab for patients after shoulder surgery. With good rehab and care, your arm should be out of the sling in 2-4 weeks. In another 4-8 weeks you should be able to use the shoulder for non-stressful activities. It will usually take 6 months to 1 year for complete recovery.
Complications for shoulder surgery are less than 5%. Some include:
Your shoulder replacement is estimated to last for about 15-20 years after surgery.
Physical Therapy and Rehab for Shoulder Replacement
For quick and complete healing to your shoulder, you need a well-structured rehabilitation program. Polygon PT offers just that. Request an appointment with a physical therapist today.