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What You Can Expect From Your Shoulder Replacement

Although you may be an active and health-conscious person who exercises regularly, stretches, and maintains a healthy diet, you might still ultimately experience problems with overuse and “wear and tear” in your joints. Either due to the effects of an old injury or gradual deterioration of a joint, there may come a time when your shoulder isn’t what it used to be due to osteoarthritis. Should your shoulder joint become painful, weak, and lose its normal fluid motion as a result of this common condition, it’s important to know that you may be an excellent candidate for a shoulder replacement to restore pain-free shoulder function.

The thought of undergoing a shoulder replacement can be daunting. After all, the shoulder joint is such an integral part of use of the arm and the thought of altering it or even temporarily disabling it may leave a patient feeling uncertain. It is important to know that medical advancements have made shoulder replacement surgery very safe and effective. If you are considering a shoulder replacement, here are a few important points to keep in mind before and after the surgery to prepare you for the procedure:

Pain Relief – the majority of patients can expected significant and usually complete pain relief in the first few days after the procedure after the immediate discomfort from the surgery subsides. For most patients, the pain relief is dramatic compared to what they were dealing with day to day prior to the surgery.
Improved Range of Motion – all patients have significant improvement in shoulder motion after surgery and many regain full motion in the shoulder if they are diligent with their post-operative rehab exercises.
Temporary Limitations – while the goal is to ultimately regain full motion, it’s important to adhere to restrictions outlined by your surgeon after the surgery to insure that your new shoulder heals properly. As part of the procedure, one of the rotator cuff tendons that stabilize the shoulder needs to be cut to allow access to the joint so that the procedure can be performed. Your surgeon repairs this tendon as part of the procedure at the completion of the surgery. It is important to limit motion of the shoulder which may stress this repair and cause it to fail in the early post-op period
Infection / Loosening – with any type of joint replacement there are risks of infection and/or loosening of the joint. These occur rarely, but certain precautions as outlined by your surgeon will help you avoid these.
Physical Therapy – the most important component of a successful surgery. Your physician will instruct you on all aspects of your therapy and work closely with physical therapists to insure that you achieve the best results from your new shoulder. It is important that you are an active participant in this process. Over time patients generally progress to doing exercises at home for up to a year after surgery to regain their maximum strength and motion in the shoulder.

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