Shoulders are the third most commonly replaced joint after hips and knees. Over 50,000 Americans have shoulder replacement surgery each year, and this number is growing. Osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common reason for shoulder replacement, but the procedure is also done for other problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis resulting from prior fractures or trauma, and cuff tear arthropathy (arthritis resulting from a large rotator cuff tear), to name a few. A joint which has worn out can cause severe pain and limited motion. A shoulder replacement can often provide significant pain relief and improved function for these conditions.
The need for shoulder replacement may come about from a traumatic injury, or just from normal wear and tear. Some patients will have severe pain in the shoulder with daily activities, loss of range of motion, pain sleeping on it at night and weakness. If you experience any of these, you should have a thorough evaluation of why you are having the symptoms. They can be caused by arthritis, or by other disorders including soft tissue damage, which have different treatment options.
If you are considering shoulder replacement, it’s important to find a surgeon who performs a large number of these procedures. Research has shown that the majority of shoulder replacements in the US are done by surgeons who do 2 or less per year. Research has also shown the length of the procedure (which also means length of anesthesia time), length of stay in the hospital, and risk of complications around the time of surgery are all lower when the procedure is performed by high volume shoulder replacement surgeons at high volume shoulder replacement centers. Don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon how often he or she performs shoulder replacements.
As a shoulder specialist, Dr. Betsy Nolan at the Oklahoma Shoulder Center, can offer a wide range of options for her patients. She know that there’s no “one size fits all” cure when it comes to shoulder pain. Non-surgical treatments include cortisone injections, medication, physical therapy, ice or activity modification. Surgery may be considered when these treatments fail to ease shoulder pain. Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, surgical options can range from minimally invasive surgical repair, done arthroscopically, to a full shoulder replacement. It is important to consider your activity demands and goals when deciding upon a treatment option. The decision is ultimately between you and your orthopaedic surgeon.
Choosing an orthopedic surgeon is not always easy, but those surgeons who are fellowship trained in shoulder reconstruction can give you a variety of options to consider, which may increase your comfort level. Give us a call to set up a consultation and discuss your treatment options.
By Oklahoma Shoulder Center PLLC
January 1, 2021