The most common reason for undergoing shoulder replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the degeneration of the joint over time, through wear and tear. Osteoarthritis can occur without any injury to the shoulder, but that is uncommon. Because the shoulder is not a weight-bearing joint, it does not suffer as much wear and tear as other joints. Osteoarthritis is more common in the hip and knee. Most of the time osteoarthritis occurs many years after an injury to the shoulder. For example, a shoulder dislocation can result in an unstable shoulder. The extra movement or repeated dislocation of the unstable joint causes damage to the articular cartilage and other joint tissues. Over time, this damage leads to osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is not the only type of arthritis that affects the shoulder joint. Systemic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may affect any joint in the body. Whatever the type or cause of the arthritis, the shoulder may become painful and difficult to use. If you and your doctor can’t find ways to control your pain, or if it becomes impossible to use your shoulder for daily tasks, your doctor may recommend shoulder replacement surgery.
Some severe degenerative problems of the shoulder may require replacement of the painful shoulder with an artificial shoulder joint. You and your surgeon should make the decision to proceed with surgery together. You need to understand as much about the procedure as possible. If you have concerns or questions, you should talk to your surgeon. Once you decide on surgery, you need to take several steps. Your surgeon may suggest a complete physical examination by your regular doctor. This exam helps ensure that you are in the best possible condition to undergo the operation.