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What is the procedure for a complete shoulder replacement?

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Quick Answer

Total shoulder replacement involves replacing the round edge of the arm bone with an artificial device that has a round metal head, explains MedlinePlus. Surgeons also replace the socket portion of the shoulder blade with a plastic shell.

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What is the procedure for a complete shoulder replacement?
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Full Answer

During total shoulder replacement, surgeons create an incision on the shoulder joint to access the shoulder area, says MedlinePlus. Surgeons remove the head of the humerus, or the upper arm bone, and secure the metal implant using a special cement. They then flatten the old socket's surface and attach the artificial part. Finally, they close the incision with sutures or staples and place a bandage over the wound.

Shoulder replacement surgery typically lasts for one to three hours, notes MedlinePlus. The use of general anesthesia makes the patient unconscious and incapable of feeling pain, whereas the use of regional anesthesia numbs the patient's arm and shoulder areas only.

Doctors usually perform a total shoulder replacement surgery to treat severe shoulder pain and improve arm mobility, states MedlinePlus. Doctors often recommend the procedure to people with extreme shoulder pain due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, severely damaged shoulder tissues, a severely broken arm bone or poor outcome of a previous shoulder surgery. After recovery, most patients experience substantial pain relief and return to normal activities without considerable difficulty.

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