Deciding about shoulder replacement surgery

Considering Shoulder Replacement Surgery

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Last updated:
11/09/2021

What bones make up the shoulder joint?

The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. It’s made up of three bones: the collarbone (clavicle), upper arm bone (humerus), and the slender blade-like bone in between them called the scapula, which provides stability to a person’s shoulders. The shoulder joint is held together by ligaments and tendons, all of which can deteriorate due to arthritis from old age or injury.

If you are considering shoulder replacement surgery, it is important to learn about the different types of shoulder replacements and what the medical experts say about them.

What are the different types of shoulder replacement surgery?

There are two basic types of shoulder replacement. Both replace the ball at the top of your upper arm and provide a socket for your upper arm bone to fit into. The main difference between them is how they attach the ball to your arm bone (humerus). One type, a cemented shoulder replacement, has a metal stem that’s attached to your humerus bone with cement. The other type, which is called an uncemented or press-fit shoulder replacement, has a ball that fits into your upper arm bone without using cement.

What are the differences between press fit implants and cemented ones?

  • Cemented Shoulder Replacements (Cemented) . The replacement ball at the top of your upper arm bone is usually connected to a metal “stem” by cement. This type of shoulder replacement is used for most people with severe arthritis. This type of shoulder replacement is commonly known as a hemiarthroplasty. During this surgery, the top part of your arm bone (humerus) is cut off and replaced with an artificial humeral component that allows you to rotate your arm without pain.
  • Uncoupled Shoulder Replacements (Uncoupled) (Press-Fit). An uncoupled shoulder replacement (also known as a hemiarthroplasty) has a ball that is pressed into the top of the humerus bone. This type of shoulder replacement is used for people with mild to moderate arthritis. This type of shoulder replacement is commonly known as a glenoid component or, more recently, an “all press-fit” arthroplasty.

What is the best shoulder replacement?

If you have moderate to severe arthritis and are considering having surgery on your shoulder, you may want to consider choosing a press-fit shoulder replacement over a cemented one. After surgery, people who have a press-fit shoulder replacement can expect to be able to move their arm more easily.

What are the risks of shoulder replacement surgery?

There are risks of any type of surgery which includes bleeding, blood clots (deep vein thrombosis), infection and anesthesia complications as well as risks related to the procedure itself including nerve injury (peripheral neuropathy) and blood vessel damage. The most common problem associated with a shoulder replacement occurs when parts of the replacement implant wear through the soft tissues holding them in place. The resulting loose implant will cause the shoulder joint to collapse and limit motion of the arm. The solution to this is to do a revision surgery that re-attaches the shoulder replacement mobile parts into solid bone.

Is shoulder replacement a major surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery is a significant decision for anyone considering it for their condition. It involves a major surgical procedure and also a long rehabilitation process, including therapy and physical training, that can take several months to one year or even longer depending on your condition and your personal recovery abilities.

Try now our interactive tool to help you make your decision Should I Have Shoulder Replacement Surgery?