Health News

My Doctor told me that I could benefit from a shoulder replacement…..

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of our joints. A joint is where two bones meet. Normally there is space between these bones. Within this space is special fluid that cushions and protects the bones when they move in close proximity to each other. Furthermore, the surfaces of the bones that normally articulate or touch (meet in the joint), are covered with a protective covering called cartilage. There are no nerves in cartilage. Nerves sense pain. There are nerves in bone. Cartilage covers the surface of the bone and acts as a plastic covering or a cap so that the nerve endings in the bone are not exposed. This “cap” provides a smooth surface that allows for the bones to touch each other without producing pain. Over time the cartilage wears down. Unfortunately this cannot be avoided. In some people this cartilage wears down faster than in other. Just as the treads on a tire wear down on your car the more you drive your car, your cartilage wears down the more you use your shoulder.


Everyone will get arthritis at some point. The only reason to address it is when it becomes painful. People may have arthritis and may not have severe pain. It may be DIAGNOSED on x-ray, CT, or MRI but this doesn’t mean that it needs to be TREATED. The only reason to TREAT arthritis is if it is painful. After the doctor examines you and takes an x-ray, he may tell you that you have arthritis. Then the next question you have to ask yourself is, “Is this more of a NUISANCE or a PROBLEM?” In other words ask yourself is this something that bothers me everyday and keeps me from doing the things that I love OR it is just annoying?

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? The type of shoulder replacement designed to treat arthritis consists of two parts, a piece of plastic that covers the socket side of the joint and a metal piece that replaces the ball side of the joint. It looks like this:


THINGS TO CONSIDER… If you are considering a joint replacement, you should remember that a joint replacement is just that, a joint REPLACEMENT, meaning that it is not your joint or the joint that you were born with. It is a replacement. Replacements are never as good as the original joint. What is meant by this is that it is not a laboring shoulder. You must be prepared to modify your lifestyle to accommadate the prosthesis. Once you have a shoulder replacement you should consider it to be your “HELPER SHOULDER”. This means no heavy lifting with it for the remainder of your lifetime. This is to maximize the lifespan of the prosthesis. Having a shoulder replacement is a big deal. There is no good information about how long these last. It varies from person to person depending on a number of factors.

Once the prosthesis is loose, then it needs to be redone. The second time is never as good as the first time the shoulder prosthesis is implanted in your shoulder. There are ways to still be active, keeping this in mind. Light throwing, pickle ball, golf , swimming are perfectly fine. I do NOT recommend return to heavy weight lifting or CrossFit though

Remember we are here to help you, not restrict you from doing things you love. We have to educate you about problems that can arise with this type of replacement as well as how to potentially avoid them. Another concern is preventing infection in your shoulder replacement. Once bacteria get into the shoulder replacement it makes a home there. White blood cells that normally kill bacteria are in our blood. Since metal and plastic don’t get blood flow, white blood cells can’t get there to kill the bacteria. What we do in an attempt to avoid this is to recommend that you have prophylactic antibiotics (one time dose) prior to undergoing any dental work or minor surgical procedures. AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY important that if you do have “bad teeth” that they get taken care of BEFORE and not after your replacement.

With that said, if you are living in pain and the pain is interfering with the quality of your life, then this shoulder replacement CAN REALLY HELP YOU!



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