|Your doctor has told you that need to undergo shoulder replacement surgery. But what does that actually mean?
As you move your arm, the ball-shaped end of the upper arm, or humerus, moves against a cup-like depression in shoulder bone, or scapula.
As long as the upper arm can slide against the shoulder, you are able to move your arm comfortably. But over time, especially in patients who suffer from arthritis, the shoulder joint can wear down.
Cartilage, the tissue that cushions the bones and makes it possible for them to move smoothly against each other can wear away.
When this happens, the bones run together, causing pain and restricting arm movement. No matter what the cause, one of the most effective ways to fix a damaged shoulder is to replace it surgically.
In this procedure, the ball-shaped bone at the top of the upper arm is removed and replaced with a metal substitute.
The shoulder socket is widened and lined with a smooth pad that allows the metal ball joint to move more freely against the shoulder blade.
Shoulder replacement surgery is a major operation, but your doctor believes that the procedure -- followed up with physical therapy and time to heal -- will result in reduced pain and greater mobility.
Then, when you are asleep, the surgical team will make an incision over the shoulder.
The team will pull the skin aside to reveal the muscle tissue below. They'll then make another incision to reveal the shoulder joint.
Next, the team pulls the top of the arm bone out of the shoulder socket.
Using a precision surgical saw, your doctor will carefully remove the ball-shaped end of the upper arm.
Then, the surgical team will use a high-speed drill to hollow out the top of the arm bone.
A specially fitted artificial ball joint slides into the top of the arm bone.
Next, your doctor will smooth the inner surface of the shoulder socket.
Once the socket has been thoroughly cleaned, the artificial lining will be secured in place.
The artificial ball joint is turned inward and fit into the socket... and the team carefully checks to make sure that it fits and allows the full range of normal motion.
Muscle and other tissues are closed over the joint using dissolvable stitches. A temporary draining tube may be added.
Finally, the skin is closed with sutures and protected with sterilized strips.
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