Shoulder Replacement

An Overview on Shoulder Replacement
(Shoulder Arthroplasty)

Shoulder osteoarthritis is a common condition found in the older population that can cause debilitating symptoms, such as chronic pain, stiffness, and weakness of the joint. Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration, or wearing away, of cartilage due to wear, and tear to the joint. Cartilage plays a critical role within the shoulder, protecting the bones, and allowing a pain-free, smooth gliding surface at the ends of each bone. Patients with severe osteoarthritis may be a candidate for a shoulder replacement procedure, otherwise known as shoulder arthroplasty. Dr. Matthew Provencher, orthopedic shoulder surgeon, offers this surgical procedure to suitable patients in the Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado area who have exhausted all other treatment options and are good candidates for shoulder replacement.

Shoulder replacement may be a viable treatment option when all other treatments have failed to alleviate painful arthritis symptoms. Dr. Provencher commonly reserves shoulder arthroplasty for patients who have tried non-surgical and minimally invasive surgical measures, such as rest, medications, physical therapy, and arthroscopic shoulder surgery, with no success.

At the beginning of the procedure, Dr. Provencher will create a small open incision at the front of the shoulder so he can gain access to the damaged joint. He will then replace the degenerated bones and cartilage with medical-grade metal and plastic components. The artificial components are designed to allow fluid, pain-free shoulder motion. The components are held in place by a combination of tight component coupling and medical bone cement, as well as the muscle-tendon units of the rotator cuff.

It is important to note that shoulder arthroplasty is not an ideal treatment option for all patients. The procedure is generally reserved for patients over the age of 50,since the prosthesis can wear out over time. The procedure provides many positive benefits, but is not ideal for younger patients. Dr. Provencher will recommend a joint preservation and cartilage restoration technique in many cases for younger, more active patients.

Recovery and Rehabilitation Following Total Shoulder Replacement

In order for the replaced joint to gain full strength and overall mobility, patients must follow the physical therapy and rehabilitation program prescribed by Dr. Provencher following a shoulder replacement procedure. It is strongly suggested that patients work with the in-house physical therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine to optimize their rehabilitation. The initial rehabilitation will focus on safe motions with a set of restrictions for approximately six weeks. After those six weeks, patients will continue the program until they are performing normal activities pain-free.

To learn more about a shoulder replacement (shoulder arthroplasty) procedure, please contact the Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic practice of shoulder surgeon Dr. Matthew Provencher.