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What is the shoulder replacement protocol?

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Quick Answer

The shoulder replacement protocol removes damaged parts of the shoulder and replaces them with artificial components, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The procedure options are to either replace just the ball of the shoulder or to replace both the ball and the socket.

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Full Answer

Surgery to replace shoulder joints is often needed for people suffering from various conditions including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis and osteonecrosis, as stated by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. These conditions can cause severe shoulder pain and weakness in the shoulder, which lead patients to consider surgery. Several types of surgery options include total shoulder replacement, stemmed hemiarthroplasty, resurfacing hemiarthroplasty and reverse total shoulder replacement. In total shoulder replacement, the arthritic joint surfaces are replaced with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem and a plastic socket, whereas other surgeries may only replace the shoulder parts with a ball.

Some complications that arise with the surgery include infection, prosthesis problems and nerve injury, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Most complications are successfully treated with antibiotics, additional surgery or time. The surgery typically takes two hours, and patients are able to go home after a few days in the hospital. However, recovery from the surgery involves a lot of physical therapy and exercise. Research is continually being done to design and develop newer and better shoulder replacements that can be used with less-invasive surgical techniques.

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