What is a 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, Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado area who have exhausted all other treatment options and are good candidates for shoulder replacement.
When to Have a 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.