5 Reasons You May Need Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement surgery can successfully relieve pain and restore function, even in the complex area of the shoulder. Read on to learn when you might need this invasive, but effective surgery.
Doctor examining man's arm/shoulder for shoulder surgery blog


Shoulder replacement surgery was once used only in cases of complex fractures at the shoulder joint, but now the surgery offers relief for people suffering from severe arthritis or other shoulder conditions.

The thought of joint replacement may be scary, but the surgery is relatively straightforward and provides immense relief from pain, while helping you regain your range of motion. Shoulder replacement surgery is usually considered an option when conservative treatments, such as medications and physical therapy, fail to relieve your pain or improve your compromised function.

Read on to learn why the doctors at Austin Shoulder Institute may recommend shoulder replacement surgery and how you might benefit.

1. You have arthritis

Several types of arthritis in the shoulder joint can be so painful and reduce your shoulder function so much that you need shoulder replacement surgery.

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed when the cartilage that provides a cushion between the bones that meet at the shoulder joint wears away. This leads to bone rubbing against bone, making joint movement uncomfortable and stiff.

Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age and isn’t really preventable. When the cartilage is degraded  enough, a shoulder replacement may be the only way to find relief.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which changes in the membrane that surrounds your shoulder joint becomes inflamed. This inflammation can eventually damage your cartilage to a point that you lose mobility and have serious pain. A shoulder replacement is sometimes the only way to get relief.

Post-traumatic arthritis in which you experience cartilage damage due to a serious injury could be another reason for shoulder replacement surgery.

2. Failed replacement

You may have already had shoulder replacement surgery, but sometimes these replacements fail. A loosening of the replacement parts, overuse, infection, or dislocation can nullify your first surgery, so you need another surgery.

3. Rotator cuff issues

In many cases, minor rotator cuff tears can be managed with non-surgical therapies or surgical repair of the soft tissue. But if you’ve had a large rotator cuff tear for a while, changes in your shoulder joint may start to occur that can lead to arthritis and destruction of the cartilage. In these cases, you may be best off having a shoulder replacement.

4. Avascular necrosis

Avascular necrosis is diagnosed when the blood supply to a bone is interrupted. The bone cells can potentially die without this source of nutrition, damaging the shoulder joint. You may suffer this painful condition due to overindulgence in alcohol, sickle cell disease, deep-sea diving, chronic steroid use, or a severe fracture to the shoulder. Shoulder replacement surgery can restore the dying bone.

5. Severe fractures

If you have a severe fracture in which the head of the humerus, or arm bone, shatters, even the expert surgeons at Austin Shoulder Institute may have trouble piecing the fragments back together. And even if they can reattach the pieces, the blood supply to them may be interrupted.

In these cases, a shoulder replacement may be the best treatment. These severe fractures most often occur in older patients with progressed osteoporosis.

Trust the staff at Austin Shoulder Institute to guide you in making the decision about shoulder joint replacement. Call our office or book a consultation online if your shoulder pain isn’t responding well to conservative therapies.


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How Do Shoulder Fractures Typically Occur?
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in your body. It includes the upper arm bone (humerus), the scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collar bone.) A fracture of the shoulder refers to a broken bone in any of these three areas.