A shoulder injury can affect both athletes and non-athletes, making even the most minor tasks painful and difficult. If the area doesn’t respond to surgery or physical therapy, you may need to have your shoulder replaced. The question is, how successful is this procedure?

Dr. Struan Coleman is a shoulder replacement specialist with offices in both Locust Valley and New York, New York, as well as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’ll try medication and physical therapy first, and if that doesn’t work, he’ll consider shoulder arthroscopy. Depending on how bad the damage is, shoulder replacement surgery may be the only option to get you back to a normal, pain-free life.

Why you may need shoulder replacement surgery

If you’re unable to use one or both of your arms, you’re not going to be able to function normally. No one wants to live their lives in constant pain and with too many restrictions. Here are some of the issues that might require a shoulder replacement:

  • Shoulder joint damage
  • Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • A broken bone or serious fracture or injury
  • A torn rotator cuff

Details of shoulder replacement surgery

While shoulder injuries are very common in athletes like pitchers, tennis players, and those who participate in high impact and contact sports like football and hockey, anyone can sustain a serious shoulder injury. Dr. Coleman will use X-rays, CT scans, an MRI, and whatever other tests are necessary to pinpoint the specific damage. There are three types of shoulder replacement surgeries: Total replacement, partial replacement, or reverse shoulder replacement.

A total shoulder replacement involves replacing the damaged area with a polished metal ball and stem which fits into a plastic socket. Partial replacement is when only the ball is replaced. And reverse replacement entails attaching the metal ball to the shoulder bones and implanting a socket at the top of the arm (in the reverse position of the total shoulder replacement). This is done for either a torn rotator cuff, or to fix a previous surgery that did not work.

Is shoulder replacement surgery successful?

Sometimes shoulder surgeries do not work or the replacement parts may break or become loose. As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection, or issues with anesthesia. But around 53,000 people in the United States have shoulder surgeries each year, reducing their pain and improving their range of motion. Only five percent of people experience complications after shoulder surgery. Choosing the right doctor has a lot to do with minimizing any potential issues.

The key to a successful surgery is sticking to your rehabilitation plan. You’ll be in a sling for two to four weeks and can do some very light lifting after a month, though you may not be able to drive again until around six weeks. When you’ve healed enough post-surgery, you’ll begin physical therapy. This is essential for building strength and healing, as are the exercises the therapist instructs you to do at home.

Dr. Coleman will follow up with you to make sure you’re progressing on schedule. At around the six month mark, you can return to more strenuous activities.

Stop living with shoulder pain and let us offer you the relief you need. Call us to schedule an appointment and we’ll determine if you need shoulder replacement surgery.

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