Arthritis is a condition that affects the cartilage of the joints. Shoulder arthritis causes the cartilage of the joint to wear thin and may expose open bone. As the cartilage lining wears away, the protective lining between the bones is lost. When this happens, painful bone-on-bone arthritis develops. Intense shoulder arthritis is very painful, and can result in the restriction of normal activities. With the use of some medications, this pain may be tolerated, but there may come a time when shoulder replacement surgery is necessary. Total shoulder replacement surgery is the best option for the treatment of severe arthritis of the shoulder joint.
Total shoulder replacement surgery relieves a patient from severe pain by replacing the damaged bone and cartilage with a plastic and metal implant. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, much like the hip joint. The ball is the top of the arm bone and the socket is within the shoulder blade. This joint allows people an enormous range of motion at the shoulder.
When shoulder replacement surgery is performed, the ball is removed from the top of the humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is shaved clean and replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.
Just like any joint replacement the success of the surgery depends on many factors including the advanced state of the arthritic joint at the time of surgery, the overall health of the patient and most importantly the dedication to the physical therapy required after the surgery.
Patients who have tried the usual treatments for shoulder arthritis, but have not been able to find adequate relief, may consider undergoing shoulder replacement surgery. Patients generally find improved motion after surgery and there is consistent improvement as there is relief from pain.