What are the surgical options for shoulder arthritis?
A shoulder arthroplasty is the surgical treatment for shoulder arthritis. This is also called a “shoulder replacement”. This procedure is similar to a knee replacement, or hip replacement, which are common operations performed for arthritis of the knee and hip. This operation tends to be extremely successful for decreasing pain and also can increase the shoulder’s range of motion. This operation has been performed for over 60 years and has a proven track record of success.
When a total shoulder replacement is performed the rough surfaces of the ball (humeral head) and socket (glenoid) are replaced with a smooth metal ball (humeral head) and plastic socket (glenoid). This operation tends to be extremely succesfull for decreasing pain and also can increase the shoulder’s range of motion. This operation has been performed for over 60 years and has a proven track record of success.
What activities will I be able to do with a total shoulder replacement?
Patients are permitted to do the vast majority of activities with a total shoulder replacement. This includes golf, tennis, horse back riding, etc. What is not allowed is heavy lifting (greater than 40lbs) repetitively.
Why can’t I lift heavy weights if I have had a total shoulder replacement?
The weak link of a total shoulder replacement is the glenoid component (plastic socket) which is cemented in place. This socket can not withstand heavy lifting and could become loose over time, especially if a patient is very active. Therefore, a total shoulder replacement is not recommended for young patients (less than 40 years old) or patient who commonly perform heavy lifting or manual labor. In general, patients should not lift more than 25 pounds with an arm that has had a total shoulder replacement.
If a patient needs to do heavy lifting, a different form of shoulder replacement called a “ream & run” is recommended. This doesn’t involve using a plastic socket which tends to fail when patients lift heavy objects that they shouldn’t be.