6850 W. Centennial Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477
Phone (708) 429-3455 /  Fax (708) 429-3422

Specialties: Shoulder Replacement

Severe shoulder pain associated with arthritis can interfere with everyday life, making simple activities like reaching overhead, getting dressed, or even resting uncomfortable, and in some cases, nearly impossible. While shoulder arthritis is generally treated with nonsurgical methods first, if these non-invasive methods fail to relieve pain and improve the patient's quality of life, shoulder replacement surgery may be considered. While less common than hip and knee replacements, shoulder replacement is just as successful in relieving joint pain.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is comprised of three bones: the humerus, or upper arm bone, the scapula, or shoulder blade, and the clavicle, or collarbone. The humerus has a ball-shaped head, which fits into a socket in the shoulder blade. For this reason, the shoulder is called a "ball and socket" joint.

A smooth substance called articular cartilage covers the surface of the bones where they meet, allowing ease of movement. The remaining surfaces in the joint are covered with a tissue called synovial membrane, which secretes a small amount of fluid to lubricate the joint. The shoulder is surrounded by muscles and tendons that help to stabilize and support it. Because of its unique structure, the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

There are several conditions that affect the shoulder, which may eventually cause patients to consider shoulder replacement.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. It is a "wear and tear" type of arthritis that happens over time, as the cartilage lining the joint wears away with use. It can eventually result in the bones rubbing together, causing pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Although it can occur in young people, osteoarthritis is most common among those over the age of 50.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Those with rheumatoid arthritis experience chronic inflammation of the synovial membrane, resulting in damage to the cartilage and eventually cartilage loss.

Finally, shoulder replacement may be considered as the result of a shoulder injury. If a patient has a severe shoulder fracture, it may be difficult to fit the bones back together properly. Fractures and large rotator cuff tears can also result in damage to the articular cartilage.

In most cases, your doctor will try to treat your shoulder with less invasive methods, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections. However, if the patient sees no improvement with these methods, surgery may be considered.

Surgery

There are a few different options for shoulder replacement surgery, depending on your condition. A conventional total shoulder replacement is the most common. This involves removing the damaged head of the humerus and replacing it with a metal ball, then the socket is resurfaced with plastic. The implants come in different sizes, and may be cemented into place or "press fit," if the bone is of good quality. "Press fit" implants have a porous surface, allowing the bone to grow into the implant, holding it in place. The implants also come in different sizes to provide the best possible fit.

Sometimes, just the ball component is replaced if the cartilage lining the socket is still intact. This is common for patients with shoulder fractures. For those who have severe rotator cuff tears, a reverse total shoulder replacement may be the best option. During this type of shoulder replacement, the placement of the ball and socket are switched; a ball component is attached to the shoulder blade, and a plastic socket is attached to the head of the humerus. This allows the deltoid muscle to support the shoulder, rather than the torn rotator cuff.

Following surgery, you will need to wear a sling for approximately 4 weeks. You will need to modify your activities to avoid putting stress on your new shoulder as it heals. You will also undergo physical therapy to regain strength in the shoulder. Most importantly, follow all instructions given to you by your doctor. These guidelines are put in place to ensure the best possible outcome.

Shoulder Replacement in Southwest Chicago

Integrity Orthopedics has three fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopedic surgeons and offers on-site physical therapy. If you are considering shoulder replacement surgery and would like to be evaluated by one of our surgeons, please contact our office at (708) 429-3455 to schedule an appointment.

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Last Modified: August 8, 2014