If you’ve been coping with chronic pain and low range of motion in your shoulder and have exhausted other treatment options, it might be time to look for a shoulder replacement doctor. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), more than 50,000 people in the US have shoulder replacement surgery each year, and while it’s not as common as hip or knee replacements, it’s just as effective in improving joint pain for many patients. But having shoulder replacement surgery is still a serious decision, so take time to find the right surgeon for your needs. In addition to reviewing the credentials of a prospective shoulder replacement doctor, you should be sure you’re working with a surgeon who will:
- Exhaust non-surgical options first: Before pursuing surgery, an experienced shoulder replacement doctor will first work with you to ensure that you are a good candidate for surgery and determine if other options, such as rest, physical therapy and injections, can give you the relief and activity level you’re seeking. Once those options have been exhausted, surgery may be the most appropriate recommendation.
- Evaluate the cause of your shoulder condition: A shoulder replacement doctor will also want to know the cause of your shoulder damage, which can include a wide range of conditions. These may include various types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, which cause degeneration of the joints, or less common conditions like Osteonecrosis, in which the blood supply to the joint is limited. Injuries are another major cause of shoulder damage either as a direct result of a fracture or over time due to post-traumatic arthritis.
- Recommend the right type of surgery for your condition: Your surgeon should have experience with and can recommend the type of procedure that is most appropriate for your condition. Depending on the severity and type of injury you have, you may be looking at any of the following types of shoulder replacement surgery.
- Reverse shoulder replacement surgery is often the best procedure when the rotator cuff or other shoulder tendons have sustained major damage especially if you have arthritis in the shoulder joint.
- If your damage is isolated to the ball of the humerous (the upper arm bone), your shoulder replacement doctor may recommend partial shoulder replacement.
- And total shoulder replacementsurgery is often recommended when arthritis has damaged ball and socket.
- Thoroughly explain the procedure risks, benefits, process, timeline and recovery: Look for a shoulder replacement doctor that takes time to explain the procedure to you, including risk and expected outcomes, any pre-surgery preparations and requirements, what to expect on the day of surgery, the anticipated hospital stay, and – perhaps most importantly, the plan for recovery.
- Serve as your health partner following the procedure, monitoring your recovery and addressing any complications or concerns.: While recovery can be lengthy (up to several months), the reward can be significant, with many patients enjoying major improvements in pain and motion after successful surgery and rehabilitation. But a good shoulder replacement doctor will ensure that you understand the commitment and effort required for a successful rehabilitation too, so that you can get back to being active and pain free. They will also check in following surgery to check for complications and see you for office visits as you progress.
There are three shoulder replacement doctors within Advanced Orthopedics, all of who are board-certified surgeons who specialize in shoulder replacement and repair of other shoulder conditions