Shoulder Joint Replacement Surgery

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Are You a Good Candidate for Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery is an incredible procedure that can restore your quality of life beyond what you might expect. Before you speak with your doctor about surgery, consider if you might be a good candidate for total joint replacement. You might be considered for surgery if:

  • You’ve had X-rays show advanced arthritis or similar issues.
  • You experience stiffness in your shoulder that limits the range of motion in your arm.
  • The activities of your work, recreation, and daily life are impacted by pain and functional limitations.
  • Conservative treatment methods such as medications, physical therapy, and activity restriction don’t alleviate your symptoms.

Advancements in Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder replacement surgery has long been a viable option for those struggling with constant shoulder issues that aren’t solved through other means. The vast majority of those who undergo surgery experience pain relief or elimination and the restoration of function. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons state that approximately 23,000 people go through shoulder replacement surgery every year.

You might experience shoulder pain for a range of reasons, including tissue damage, overuse or underuse of your shoulder, or injury to the soft tissue. The pain might not even stop in your shoulder and instead move down the rest of your arm.

As the medical field continues to advance, ample progress has been made in regard to shoulder prosthesis design. The Solar Shoulder is just one example of the incredible advancements we’ve seen. This shoulder prosthesis is designed to provide a more natural feeling throughout your range of motion and replicate your natural anatomy.

Read through this page to learn more about how The Solar Shoulder can benefit you in your pursuit of shoulder replacement surgery. If there’s anything you’re unclear about, make a note of it to discuss with on of our Fort Myers, Estero and Naples orthopedic surgeons. Keep in mind that individual results may vary.

The Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder consists of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collar bone (clavicle). These three bones work together to make the shoulder the body’s most moveable joint.

In the shoulder, you’ll also find the shoulder joint, formally called the glenohumeral joint. This joint connects the shoulder blade to the humerus and allows for the arm to move in a circular motion.

Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles and their respective tendon. This group of muscles provides strength and mobility and helps hold the humerus to the shoulder’s socket (glenoid fossa).

Finally, the articular cartilage is a smooth substance covering the bones’ surfaces and acting as a cushion between your bones. Learn more about the shoulder’s anatomy.

Causes and Treatments for Shoulder Pain

Many cases of shoulder joint pain are caused by arthritis. There are three common types of arthritis that may be the culprit for your pain.

Osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as OA or degenerative arthritis, involves the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. As the cartilage disappears, your bones begin to rub together and cause stiffness and pain. This type of arthritis is most common in patients aged 50 and older and tends to appear in patients with a family history of OA.

While OA can occur with no shoulder injury, it’s uncommon. The shoulder doesn’t bear weight like the hip or knee does, so it’s not typical for OA to appear without an injury. Usually, OA in the shoulder appears years after the injury when joint instability and other factors have damaged the shoulder joint further.

Rheumatoid arthritis, sometimes called RA, tends to impact women far more than men and can spread to other areas of the body besides the shoulder. RA produces chemical changes within the shoulder’s joint space, causing thickness and inflammation and destroying cartilage. All of these effects lead to an incredibly painful experience.

Post-traumatic arthritis is typically seen after a shoulder joint injury when the cartilage and bone were unable to heal properly. In these cases, the joint is not smooth like it should be, and the result is increased wear on the surfaces of the joint.

Joint pain can also come from avascular necrosis, which happens when bone doesn’t receive its typical blood supply in situations like post-organ transplant or a long-term cortisone treatment. Finally, you might experience joint pain because of direct injury or deformity to your joint.

Orthopaedic Evaluation
To determine if shoulder replacement surgery is right for you, your shoulder specialist will perform an orthopaedic evaluation. Every evaluation at the Orthopedic Center of Florida in Fort Myers, Estero and Naples is different, but you can expect X-rays, a physical exam, and a comprehensive review of your medical history. You may also go through additional testing like lab testing or urine, blood, or joint fluid, or a bone scan.

Treatment Options

Once your shoulder doctor has reviewed the findings of your evaluation, they’ll be able to recommend the best course of treatment. Based on your diagnosis, you may be presented with the following treatment options:

  • Shoulder joint fluid supplements (injections meant to provide temporary pain relief)
  • Medications such as cortisone injections for temporary relief
  • Physical therapy
  • Shoulder joint replacement surgery

If you and your surgeon agree that shoulder joint replacement surgery is your best option for pain relief, your surgeon will then tell you more about the type of artificial joint that will be used in your surgery. They will also let you know how to prepare for the procedure, how it will be performed, and what you can expect to experience afterward.

Ready to Consider Shoulder Joint Replacement?

Things You Should Know

Having an injured or arthritic shoulder replaced is less common than having a hip or knee replaced, but it can provide many of the same benefits as these comparable procedures, such as restoration of movement and relief or elimination of joint pain.

Proper shoulder movement is incredibly important for your quality of life. The shoulder allows your arm to rotate in all directions, and without the proper range of motion, you’re likely unable to participate in many of your regular daily activities.

Shoulder Joint Replacement Surgery

For your shoulder replacement surgery in Fort Myers, Estero and Naples, your artificial shoulder joint will consist of two or three parts, depending on the type of surgery your case requires.

  • A glenoid component, made of plastic, will replace the glenoid socket’s surface.
  • A humeral head component, made of metal, will replace the humeral head located at the top of the humerus.
  • A humeral component, made of metal, will be implanted in the humerus.

You will go through one of these two types of shoulder joint replacement procedures:

  • Partial Shoulder Joint Replacement. This procedure is used when the glenoid socket does not need to be replaced. The humeral head is replaced, and the humeral component is implanted.
  • Total Shoulder Joint Replacement. This procedure is used when the glenoid socket does need to be replaced. All three of the components listed above will be used.

How Long Will an Artificial Shoulder Joint Last?

Unfortunately, this question is impossible to answer, since results vary by case. Though the vast majority of procedures are successful, artificial joints can sometimes wear out or become loose and require revision (repeat) surgery. The longevity of your shoulder joint will be determined by:

  • Disease progression
  • Bone quality
  • Bone strength
  • Activity level
  • Age

A small degree of loosening and bone loss may occur, but if it becomes too much, you may need a revision surgery.

Potential Complication

While the vast majority of complications are avoided in shoulder joint replacement surgeries, there are inherent risks just like there are with any major surgical procedure. Rest assured in knowing that serious complications like joint infection impact less than 2% of patients who go through shoulder joint replacement surgery.

Other possible complications may include pneumonia, lung congestion, and blood clots (the most commonly seen complication). A few potential complications are shoulder-specific, such as nerve injury and shoulder dislocation. Nerve injury can occur since many blood vessels and major nerves flow through the armpit, or axilla.

If you do experience complications, you may require additional surgery or other medical intervention. In rare instances, complications may lead to death. Please discuss any potential complications with your orthopaedic surgeon.


Once your surgery is complete, you’ll have a team of nurses, physical therapists, and other professionals working with your orthopaedic shoulder surgeon to ensure you recover properly. Typically, you’ll be assigned a case manager who will help you through your rehabilitation routines. You’ll slowly but surely become more independent and confident in your movements.

You may need to work with a physical therapist after your surgery. Your therapist will create an exercise program that you can complete in bed and inside the therapy department. They’ll work with you through the program to ensure you regain your muscle strength and improve your range of motion.

Once you’ve fully recovered, you’ll most likely be able to return to your daily activities as normal. Keep in mind, however, that individual results will vary. If you plan to do any of the following activities, please discuss with your shoulder doctor beforehand:

Activities that put your shoulder joint through excessive stress, such as:

  • Boxing and other impact sports involving your arm/shoulder
  • Hammering and other movements that require force from your arm/shoulder
  • Pushing or lifting heavy objects

These activities can potentially impact how well your artificial shoulder performs and how long it lasts. The success of your procedure will also be determined by how well you follow the instructions of your orthopaedic specialist and your recovery team. With time, you may experience a reduction or even elimination in your joint pain, as well as a significant improvement in how you feel during daily activities.

For more information, contact Orthopedic Center of Florida or schedule online for a consultation in our Fort Myers, Estero or Naples, FL offices.

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1. Hanssen, A.D., et al., “Evaluation and Treatment of Infection at the Site of Total Hip or Knee Arthroplasty,” JBJS, Volume 80-A, No. 6, June 1998, pp. 910-922.