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Total shoulder replacement, also known as total shoulder arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to relieve pain and restore function in a severely damaged or arthritic shoulder joint. This procedure involves replacing the damaged parts of the shoulder joint with artificial components, allowing patients to regain mobility and improve their quality of life. 

Indications for Total Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement is typically recommended for individuals suffering from conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rotator cuff tear arthropathy, or avascular necrosis. These conditions can cause persistent shoulder pain, limited range of motion, and a decline in overall shoulder function, impairing daily activities and affecting the individual's quality of life. If non-surgical treatments like medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications fail to provide relief, total shoulder replacement may be considered.

Surgical Technique

Total shoulder replacement surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia. Dr Rajesh Malhotra, a highly experienced orthopaedic surgeon, makes an incision on the front or side of the shoulder, providing access to the damaged joint. The procedure involves three main components: the humeral component, the glenoid component, and the plastic liner. The humeral component replaces the ball-shaped head of the upper arm bone (humerus), while the glenoid component replaces the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula). The plastic liner is placed between these components to facilitate smooth movement.

During the surgery, he removes the damaged bone and cartilage from the affected joint. The humeral component is then inserted into the hollowed-out portion of the humerus, often secured with bone cement or press-fit technique. The glenoid component is implanted in the socket, and the plastic liner is placed in between to allow for smooth articulation.

Recovery Process

Following surgery, patients usually spend a few days in the hospital for monitoring and pain management. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process, helping patients regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in their shoulder. Initially, passive exercises are performed, where the therapist moves the arm for the patient. As healing progresses, active exercises are introduced, allowing the patient to move their shoulder independently. The duration of recovery varies from person to person, but most individuals can resume light activities within a few weeks and achieve full recovery within a few months.

Risks and Complications

While total shoulder replacement is generally considered safe and effective, like any surgical procedure, it carries some risks and potential complications. These may include infection, blood clots, nerve injury, instability or dislocation of the joint, fracture, implant loosening, limited range of motion, and allergic reactions to anaesthesia or implant materials. Dr. Rajesh Malhotra will discuss these potential risks before letting you undergo the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

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