Shoulder Replacement

Total Shoulder Replacement

Patients frequently ask, "What exactly is a total shoulder replacement?"  The simplest answer is that it is a replacement of the worn and arthritic surfaces of the shoulder joint or as a solution for certain fractures very close to the joint.  A total shoulder replacement replaces the worn or damaged parts of the joint by fixing an artificial surface to all parts that contact each other as the shoulder moves and lifts the arm.  The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, consisting of the humeral head (the "ball"), the glenoid fossa (the "socket") and the shoulder capsule, or tissue that surrounds the joint.  A shoulder replacement removes the damaged parts of the shoulder, replacing them with artificial components.  The implants, which are made of some combination of metal and plastic come in a variety of sizes and are fitted to the bone to provide an artificial surface that causes no pain when the shoulder is used.  These parts may be fixed to the bone with or without cement.

Partial Shoulder Replacement

Depending on the condition of your shoulder, only the ball may need to be replaced.  This procedure is called a hemiarthroplasty, or partial replacement.  This option is used when arthritis or a fracture only involves this part of the joint and the socket is normal.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

This procedure is primarily used for people who have had a previous shoulder replacement that failed or who have a completely torn rotator cuff with severe arm weakness in addition to the arthritis.  The rotator cuff is made of four small muscles that keep the shoulder blade and upper arm aligned so that larger muscles like the deltoid can life the arm.

In this procedure, the socket and the metal ball are switched.  That means a metal ball is attached to the shoulder blade socket and a plastic socket is attached to the upper arm bone.  This allows you to life your arm following surgery without the rotator cuff.