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Is Shoulder Replacement Surgery Worth It?

Everything you should know before the procedure

If you’re dealing with chronic shoulder pain and reduced mobility, you might have been asked to consider shoulder replacement surgery by your healthcare provider. You would not be alone in receiving this news. 

 

About 53,000 people in the U.S. have shoulder replacement surgeries each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. That’s far less than the 900,000 Americans who undergo hip or knee replacement surgery each year, but shoulder replacement surgery has been the treatment of choice for shoulders that aren’t responding to non-surgical interventions.

 

In this blog post, board certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Omar Hussamy shares his insights gathered from performing more than 1,000 shoulder replacements from his surgery centers in Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, Florida.

Understanding Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery, also known as shoulder arthroplasty, is a medical procedure in which the damaged parts of the shoulder joint are replaced with artificial components. The surgery can provide relief from shoulder pain and restore function to the joint. 

Finding out is shoulder replacement surgery worth it with an xray

The most common reasons patients seek shoulder replacement surgery are:

Arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of shoulder joint deterioration. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results from the wear and tear of joint cartilage over time. Rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis are other forms that can severely damage the shoulder joint. 

Bone Fracture

A significant trauma or bone fracture in the shoulder, such as the types of injuries sustained in car accidents or slip and fall accidents, can disrupt the joint’s normal function. In some cases, the damage may be too severe to repair through non-surgical methods, as in cases of a shattered top of the humerus. 

Torn Rotator Cuff 

A torn rotator cuff is also quite common and often seen in people who play tennis, golf, and other sports that require extensive strength in the shoulders. Torn rotator cuffs can be very painful. While not all cases require surgery, severe tears or those that don’t respond to conservative treatments can benefit from shoulder replacement surgery.

Avascular Necrosis 

Avascular necrosis, or the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply, can affect the shoulder joint. The condition can lead to the collapse of the bone, causing severe pain and loss of function. Shoulder replacement surgery may be considered to address advanced stages of this condition.

Benefits of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

You’re probably asking what are the benefits of shoulder replacement surgery? There are many reasons to want to have the procedure performed: 

Pain Relief 

One of the primary reasons Dr. Hussamy’s patients undergo this procedure is to alleviate chronic pain. When treatments like medications and physical therapy fail to provide adequate relief, surgery often becomes the most viable option.

 

Shoulder replacement surgery aims to reduce or eliminate this pain by replacing the damaged joint with prosthetic components. Many of Dr. Hussamy’s patients experience a significant reduction in pain following the procedure, which greatly improves their overall quality of life.

Improved Functionality 

Chronic shoulder pain often leads to a loss of shoulder function, making it difficult to complete simple tasks like lifting, reaching, and even dressing. Shoulder replacement surgery can help restore proper joint function, allowing patients to regain their independence and get more out of life!

 

What is the Shoulder Replacement Surgery Recovery Time?

Understanding the recovery process is crucial when answering the question “is shoulder replacement surgery worth it?” While individual recovery times can vary, here is a general timeline many of Dr. Hussamy’s patients experience:

Immediate Post Surgery

In the days immediately following surgery, you’ll need to wear a sling to support your shoulder. Physical therapy will typically begin during this period to help you regain range of motion in your shoulder.

First 6 Weeks

During the first six weeks after surgery, it’s crucial to protect the shoulder and avoid putting excessive strain on it. Your physical therapist will guide you through gentle exercises to gradually improve mobility. 

Six to 12 Weeks

Around the 6- to 12-week mark, you should notice significant improvements in your shoulder’s range of motion and strength. Many patients can resume light activities during this time, although heavy lifting and strenuous exercises are still restricted.

Six Months to Full Recovery

It’s important to keep in mind that full recovery from shoulder replacement surgery can take up to 6 months or longer. At this point, most patients can return to their normal daily activities, including sports and recreational pursuits. However, it’s essential to continue with your prescribed exercises and follow Dr. Hussamy’s recommendations for the best outcomes.

Physical Therapy session post shoulder replacement surgery

What are some Possible Complications of Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

No surgical procedure is entirely without risks, but shoulder replacement surgery is very low in risks posed. Less than 5% of patients experience issues, meaning that the success rate is 95% or greater. Some complications faced by a few can include:

Infection

Infection at the surgical site is a rare but serious complication. To minimize this risk, surgeons take precautions, such as using sterile techniques and prescribing antibiotics post surgery. 

Prosthesis Problems

Occasionally, problems with the artificial join components can occur, such as dislocation or loosening. These issues may require further surgery to correct.

Nerve or Blood Vessel Damage

While uncommon, injury to nearby nerves or blood vessels during surgery can lead to temporary or permanent complications. 

 

Dr. Hussamy discusses these potential risks with all his shoulder replacement surgery candidates prior to surgery to help them make the most informed decision. He also provides comfort in this stellar success rate with these types of joint replacements.

physical therapy after shoulder replacement surgery recovery time

Physical Therapy After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Rehabilitation plays a vital role in the success of shoulder replacements surgery. After the procedure, you will work closely with a physical therapist to help you regain strength and mobility in your shoulder. Here’s what you can expect:

Early Rehabilitation

As mentioned above, physical therapy begins shortly after surgery. Initially, the focus is on gentle range-of-motion exercises and preventing stiffness.

Strengthening Exercises

Over time, your physical therapist will introduce strengthening exercises to improve the muscles surrounding the joint. This helps stabilize the shoulder joint and enhances functionality. 

Functional Training 

Functional training exercises involve simulating real-life activities to ensure your shoulder can handle everyday tasks. Your therapist will work with you to regain the ability to perform essential functions like reaching out, lifting, and reaching overhead. 

The Pros of Shoulder Replacement Surgery Far Outweigh the Cons

While the recovery process may take several months, the majority of Dr.Hussamy’s patients experience a successful outcome with minimal complications. 

Ultimately, determining if shoulder replacement surgery is worth it should be made in consultation with Dr. Hussamy who is best informed to assess your specific condition and provide personalized recommendations. 

If you’re facing persistent shoulder pain and reduced mobility, contact Dr. Hussamy for a free consultation today by calling 772-213-9800. Visit www.hussamyortho.com to learn more. 

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