Facts You Should Know About Total Shoulder Replacement

Given how much you rely on your shoulders, hearing a diagnosis that you need to have total shoulder replacement can be scary. Make sure you know the facts about what you’re facing. With that in mind, we’re here to be fully informed. 

At the Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. Michael L. Blackwell specializes in shoulder replacements and is dedicated to educating you on what to expect before, during, and after surgery. 

Shoulder overview

Your shoulder is a large, complex joint. It includes three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). Your humerus has a rounded end that fits into the curve of your shoulder blade, creating a ball-and-socket joint. 

Ligaments connect the bones, and tendons attach the muscles to the bone. Cartilage, another type of tissue, acts as a cushion between the bones. Each part works in unison to give your shoulder the range of motion and stability you need to participate in sports and complete daily tasks.

Shoulder replacement surgery basics

Because your shoulder is so complicated, it’s easily injured. Often, you need total shoulder replacement surgery to correct and heal the damage. This is what you should expect before, during, and after surgery:

Before surgery

To determine whether you need surgery, Dr. Blackwell conducts a physical exam and other imaging tests to get a clear image of your situation and better assess your needs. If you need surgery, Dr. Blackwell directs you on how to prepare. 

Be ready to stop taking certain drugs like painkillers several weeks before surgery. He can also recommend reducing or halting your smoking and drinking habits and direct you to not eat or drink immediately before surgery. 

We suggest you establish what your daily routine will look like following surgery. It’s likely you won’t have much range of motion, so it’s best to prepare your living area ahead of time to better accommodate you as you recover.

During surgery

The surgery lasts about three hours on average. Dr. Blackwell administers anesthetic drugs to keep you sedated during surgery. 

During the operation, Dr. Blackwell uses minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques to conduct the surgery. This means that he uses a pencil-sized instrument with a lens on the end to magnify your shoulder and the structures inside it. With this tool, Dr. Blackwell is able to remove damaged areas and replace your joints without a large incision. 

After surgery

When your surgery is over, you enter the recovery phase. You typically need physical therapy to regain normal range of motion, strength, and stability in your shoulder. Make sure you follow all of Dr. Blackwell’s guidelines for rehabilitation and recovery so you get lasting results. 

There are many reasons you might need surgery

Since its debut on the medical scene, shoulder surgery has expanded beyond treating fractures. Dr. Blackwell uses a total shoulder replacement to address a wide variety of painful conditions including rotator cuff injuries, fractures, and arthritis, a gradual wearing down of the cartilage and bone in your shoulder. You also could have the procedure to repair a previous replacement surgery that has failed. 

Dr. Blackwell can also use shoulder replacement surgery to correct avascular necrosis. This is a condition in which the bone tissue in your shoulder has died due to a lack of blood supply. 

Whether your shoulder problems stem from injury, natural wear and tear, or another issue, Dr. Blackwell’s expertise in shoulder surgery fixes the problem and helps you find relief from pain. 

This kind of surgery is very effective

Total shoulder replacement surgery is a very common procedure that delivers great results. Some 95% of patients who have undergone shoulder surgery have reported an improved range of motion, strength, and function in their shoulder within a year of surgery. Add Dr. Blackwell’s expert care and you have a very high chance of finding relief from your shoulder aches, pains, and injuries. 

Total shoulder replacement is not for everyone

While multiple conditions can be treated with surgery, it’s not necessarily the best option for you. For example, you might need only a partial replacement if most of the joint is healthy enough to function properly. 

We also consider surgery as the last resort when it comes to treating your shoulder. If you’re not responding to conservative treatments, Dr. Blackwell might then discuss the possibility of surgery with you. 

Don’t spend another day living with the pain and symptoms of shoulder problems. Call our offices in Tomball or Shenandoah, Texas, to schedule an appointment and get more information. You can also send a message to Dr. Blackwell and the team here on our website.

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