When it comes to the details of your surgery, don’t shrug your shoulders. Your surgeon can provide a wealth of knowledge to put you at ease both before your surgery and post operation. Utilized to remedy a variety of ailments ranging from post-traumatic arthritis to fractures, shoulder replacement surgery is a frequently performed surgery in the United States. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 53,000 people undergo one each year.1
Select a reputable Board-certified surgeon who will make you feel well-prepared before surgery and provide post-op advice to promote faster healing. Asking important questions is key for anyone considering an operation; the American College of Surgeons is a great resource for those wondering what to expect. Do your due diligence. The following questions are important for understanding your Shoulder Replacement Surgery.
Why is Shoulder Replacement Surgery the right choice for me?
There are a variety of reasons for which your physician may recommend this procedure. For one, you may have exhausted all other non-invasive options – such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and cortisone shots – to no avail. Another red flag, is experiencing pain while at rest. If persistent pain is keeping you from getting much-needed shuteye, this could be an indicator that surgical intervention is necessary.1 Loss of motion, weakness, or the inability to carry out everyday activities are other signs that shoulder replacement surgery should be on the horizon.
What are the possible risks of this procedure?
Any surgery holds the possibility for complications; and while they are few and far between, it’s always best to be prepared. Surgeries that require a patient to go under general anesthesia always carry a certain risk factor for strokes and blood clots, but it’s rare – with only .5% – 1% of all shoulder replacement patients facing either a blood clot, or pulmonary embolism.2 Infections are a possibility as well; however, your physician will prescribe antibiotics that greatly reduce your risk. Remember: there’s no reward without a modicum of risk.
How can I prepare for my surgery?
A complete physical exam will allow your doctor to collect valuable information about your health and will determine if you’re fit enough to endure surgery. In the weeks preceding your surgery, they’ll also ask that you cease using any anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs), as they increase your bleeding risk. Ready your arsenal of comfortable post-operative clothing – such as billowy, loose-fitting and button-down garments.3 This will keep you comfortable and allow you to change dressings as it becomes necessary.
What does the actual procedure entail?
The humeral head – the joint “ball” is replaced with a prosthetic metal ball. Depending on whether your physician recommends a full or partial shoulder replacement, a plastic part may also be placed surrounding the socket of the shoulder – which is referred to as the Glenoid in medical terms.3
What can I expect during my recuperation period?
A removable canvas arm sling is used to keep the arm immobilized. Patience is key; due to the nature of this surgery, expect to have less arm function for up to a month following the procedure.3 However, the hand and wrist can typically be used soon. Light shoulder activity can be resumed at around six weeks post-operation.4 Pain will be most likely be present following surgery, and your physician will prescribe medications to alleviate the pain. Adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for physical therapy. These exercises will help to increase your range of motion and mobility. Take comfort in knowing that the success rate is high. Approximately 95% of patients who have Total Shoulder Arthroplasty (TSA) are pain-free after one year, making it an advantageous surgery.
The best resource for surgical questions is your surgeon. If you’re considering a Total Shoulder Arthroplasty, the expert team at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder could be right for you. Since 1987, they’ve diagnosed and treated a host of shoulder, arm, wrist, and elbow conditions. Highly-experience and Board-certified, their surgeons will work hard to ensure you achieve optimal results. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 410-296-6232.