Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis is a painful condition caused by the loss of cartilage in the joint.  Normally, the joint surfaces are covered by a smooth layer of cartilage that allows painless gliding of the joint.  Arthritis can set in due to reasons such as wear and tear, fractures, or chronic dysfunction due to rotator cuff tears.  In addition to the pain, patients experience stiffness and weakness. Shoulder arthritis can often prevent patients from enjoying their normal activities or sports.

An arthritic shoulder image
An arthritic shoulder has lost its normal gliding cartilage surfaces. Bone spurs and inflamed joint synovium can cause pain and stiffness.

Shoulder Replacement

While shoulder replacement is less common than knee or hip replacement, it can be a crucial part of relieving joint pain. Having an orthopaedic surgeon with experience in shoulder replacement is necessary for a good result. In shoulder replacement surgery, damaged parts of the shoulder are replaced with artificial components. There are two main types of shoulder replacement surgery and talking with your doctor can help you determine which one is right for you.

  • Anatomic Total Shoulder Replacement (ATSA)
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement (RTSA)

Anatomic total shoulder replacement is the traditional type of surgery and maintains your normal anatomy. The ball of the shoulder is replaced by a metal ball and the socket has a plastic component placed.

Image of a total shoulder replacement
A modern total shoulder replacement

Reverse total shoulder replacement is also an option for people who have more severe shoulder conditions such as an irreparable rotator cuff tear, a previously failed shoulder replacement, or severe arthritis with bone loss. Reverse shoulder replacement changes the normal mechanics of the shoulder to allow the deltoid to function optimally.

Image of a reverse shoulder replacement
A reverse total shoulder replacement

What’s it like to have a shoulder replacement?

This type of surgery is usually done as an outpatient surgery and takes about 90 minutes. The surgery takes place using general anesthesia as well as a nerve block to keep the shoulder and arm numb for the first day. Patients recover at home and begin a physical therapy course that lasts about 4 months. Most people can return to their normal activities such as golf or swimming after 4-6 months.

At the shoulder and elbow center at OCA, our board certified orthopaedic surgeons have advanced training and years of experience in shoulder replacement.  We track our patient rated outcomes and are proud of our successful record.

Watch Dr. Sohn’s interview about shoulder arthritis.

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