• Total Shoulder Replacement

    When most people think of joint replacement, they think of knees or hips. However, the shoulder joint can be replaced as well. In fact, total shoulder replacement can be as successful at relieving shoulder pain as other joint replacement surgeries. The total shoulder replacement surgeons at Regional Orthopedic have had great success in treating patients with shoulder pain in New York City, Staten Island, Jersey City, and surrounding areas.

    Anatomy of the Shoulder

    The shoulder joint has a rather unique anatomy. This is not surprising since the shoulder joint provides the arm with the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. The shoulder joint is comprised of three bones: the upper arm or humerus, the collarbone or clavicle, and the shoulder blade or scapula. The areas where the bones touch one another are covered with cartilage, and the remaining surfaces of the joint are covered in synovial membranes. The entire joint is stabilized and reinforced by tendons and muscles.

    The humerus and the scapula meet at the glenoid. Many problems treated by total shoulder replacement involve the glenohumeral joint.

    Symptoms and Causes of Shoulder Pain

    Shoulder pain is usually caused by one or more of the following problems:

    • Arthritis
    • Tendon injury and inflammation (e.g. rotator cuff syndrome)
    • Infection
    • Fracture
    • Tumor

    Your shoulder pain doctor will determine the precise cause of your pain through physical examination and other studies. Not all causes of shoulder pain are treated with shoulder replacement surgery, however. Shoulder replacement surgery may be considered for people who have severe osteoarthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, large rotator cuff tears, fractures in the bones of the shoulder, or osteonecrosis (a lack of blood flow to the bone).

    Am I a Candidate for Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

    Most people become a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery after conservative treatments for shoulder pain fail. Conservative shoulder pain treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections into the shoulder joint, and physical therapy.

    You may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery if you have severe shoulder pain that limits your ability to perform daily activities such as washing your hair or preparing dinner. Moreover, most people who are considering shoulder replacement surgery have shoulder pain even when they are resting. Another indication for shoulder replacement surgery is weakness in the shoulder or the arm that limits the joint’s range of motion.

    Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis)

    Osteoarthritis is age-related arthritis arising from wear and tear on joints. Usually seen in people over 50, degenerative joint disease erodes cartilage in the shoulder meant to cushion bones and prevent them from scraping against each other. When little to no cartilage remains, bones rub painfully together, causing inflammation, stiffness and chronic pain.

    Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

    If you have a long-standing, large rotator cuff tear, it could develop rotator cuff tear arthropathy. Changes in your shoulder joint stemming from this type of rotator cuff tear may increase your risk for suffering arthritis and accelerated degeneration of joint cartilage.

    Post-Traumatic Arthritis

    Following a serious shoulder injury, bone fractures in shoulder bones or tears in shoulder ligaments and tendons may damage cartilage over time. Signs of post-traumatic arthritis include shoulder pain that doesn’t respond to traditional pain treatments and limited shoulder functioning.


    A painful disorder occurring when blood supply to the shoulder joint bones (or any other joint bones) is restricted, osteonecrosis (avascular necrosis) will eventually destroy the shoulder joint and cause severe arthritis. People at risk for developing osteonecrosis include athletes with a history of shoulder fractures, those who use steroids frequently and individuals with sickle cell anemia.

    Severe Shoulder Fractures

    If the upper arm bone head is shattered, an orthopedic surgeon may not be able to restore such as badly damaged bone. Your total shoulder replacement surgeon in Jersey City will strongly urge you to consider replacing the fractured shoulder joint with a new, fully functioning prosthesis.

    How to Prepare for Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Your total shoulder replacement doctor will provide you with materials that will help you prepare for life before and after shoulder replacement surgery. Make sure to tell your total shoulder replacement surgeon about any chronic health problems you may have and any medications and supplements that you take routinely.

    You will need to “pass” medical clearance before being allowed to undergo shoulder replacement surgery, so it is important to become as healthy as you can before surgery (e.g. lose excess weight, stop smoking, get diabetes and high blood pressure under control, etc.). This will help you recover faster and have a better outcome.

    What to Expect From Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Shoulder replacement surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you will not be awake for the procedure. The surgery itself usually takes about 2 to 3 hours with another hour or two in post-anesthesia recovery. Total shoulder replacement surgery is considered an inpatient surgical procedure, which means you will need to stay in the hospital for about three days after surgery.

    Recovery and Results From Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Part of the time spent in the hospital after shoulder replacement surgery is so that you can participate in a structured physical therapy rehabilitation program. It is important to fully participate in the strengthening and flexibility exercises to get the most out of your replacement joint. You may need to carry your arm in a sling for up to one month as your shoulder heals.

    During that time, you will need to continue an outpatient physical therapy program. Soreness and pain are common after shoulder replacement surgery. However, these are treated with prescribed pain medications. Once you have fully healed, you can expect less pain, improved range of motion, and improved strength. You’ll have better quality of life than you had prior to surgery as well.

    If you have shoulder pain and are interested in shoulder replacement surgery, contact Regional Orthopedics to speak with a total shoulder replacement doctor in NYC, Staten Island, or Jersey City.

    How Long Does It Take to Recover from Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

    Immediately after your shoulder replacement surgery, you may not have full use of your wrist or fingers for about 24 hours due to the anesthetic block. Swelling and bruising of the arm and hand correlating to the shoulder operated on may also occur. Healthcare professionals assisting you through your surgery will show you how to perform exercises to prevent the formation of blood clots in your veins. In addition, your total shoulder replacement surgeon in Jersey City may prescribe activities to minimize scar tissue development and strengthen muscles supporting your new joint. Within two or three days, you should be well enough to leave the medical facility and return home.

    If you are interested in learning more shoulder replacement, make an appointment with a total shoulder replacement surgeon in NYC at Regional Orthopedic today.