How Do I Know If I Need a Shoulder Replacement?

Are you in pain? That is the first thing you should consider when thinking about shoulder replacement surgery, also called shoulder arthroplasty. While shoulder replacement is not as common as hip and knee replacement surgery, it’s equally as effective at eliminating pain and helping people return to activities they once loved, such as golf, swimming, and tennis.

About 53,000 people undergo shoulder replacement surgery every year. One study found that 93% of patients were satisfied with the outcome of their shoulder surgery. Over 90% of them returned to a high-demand sport. By comparison, more than 900,000 Americans have hip or knee replacement surgery every year.

At Orange Orthopaedic Associates, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon James M. Lee Jr., MD, has helped free many of our patients from pain with shoulder replacement surgery.

How the shoulder works

Your shoulder is made up of your upper arm bone, also called the humerus, your shoulder blade, or scapula, and your collarbone, also called the clavicle. Your upper arm bone fits into a socket in your shoulder blade. 

Muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder help keep it stable. Cartilage, a smooth substance that enables bones to move easily, surrounds the bones that make up the shoulder. If tendons, bones, and cartilage are in good working order, your shoulder should be able to rotate and move freely, without pain and stiffness.

When one of these components is impaired, whether stretched, torn, worn away, or inflamed, you may experience pain, weakness, or stiffness in your shoulder. This damage can be a result of long-term wear-and-tear or a traumatic injury.

When to consider shoulder replacement

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common health conditions that can lead to shoulder pain and stiffness and, ultimately, a shoulder replacement. Osteoarthritis usually affects people over 50 and results in the wearing down of cartilage over time, leaving the bones without cushioning or lubrication. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes the membrane that surrounds the joints to become thick and inflamed. There is no cure for either form of arthritis. A traumatic injury can also cause deterioration of joints and protective tissue and lead to the need for a shoulder replacement. 

The first line of treatment for pain and inflammation is often non-invasive therapy options such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. In many cases, these treatments work. But if they don’t and you can no longer participate in sports or other daily activities, or you have trouble sleeping, you may be a good candidate for shoulder replacement. 

Are you wondering if a shoulder replacement is right for you? Dr. Lee can help you determine the right course of treatment for your shoulder pain. 

Call us at Orange Orthopaedic Associates to make an appointment with Dr. Lee at either our West Orange or Bayonne, New Jersey, location. Find out if shoulder replacement surgery is the best treatment option to help you return to an active pain-free lifestyle. 

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