Do I Need a Shoulder Replacement?

Do I Need a Shoulder Replacement?

If you’re dealing with chronic shoulder pain, it’s wise to know when shoulder replacement is a good option. Total shoulder replacement, also called total shoulder arthroplasty, is a highly successful procedure that reduces pain and restores function and mobility. 

Visiting a specialist is the first step to getting relief from chronic shoulder pain. The Santa Barbara community can rely on the expertise of shoulder and sports medicine specialist Matthew Pifer, MD, and his team. Dr. Pifer employs the latest advances in orthopedic medicine, including stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapy to relieve your pain and restore your active lifestyle. 

Here we discuss what you should know about when to consider shoulder replacement. 

What can shoulder replacement do for you?

Total shoulder replacement removes all or part of your shoulder joint and replaces the damaged parts with artificial implants that function like your regular shoulder. This restores function and reduces chronic pain. 

Dr. Pifer specializes in the arthroscopic approach to shoulder surgery. This involves using a special tube with a light on the end to visualize and repair the shoulder. Compared to traditional open shoulder surgery, arthroscopic shoulder replacement is performed through a series of small incisions, instead of large cuts. This results in less tissue damage, fewer risks, and faster recovery. 

When is shoulder replacement a good option?

Patients with severe and chronic shoulder pain should consider shoulder replacement when other therapies have failed to provide adequate relief. Here are three of the most common reasons to consider shoulder replacement:

Severe shoulder arthritis

Severe arthritis of the shoulder causes chronic pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Pain in the shoulder is constant and it limits your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities like reaching above your head to get a coffee cup out of a cupboard. 

Patients with shoulder arthritis have often abandoned an active lifestyle due to chronic pain. 

Shoulder replacement is often recommended for patients with end-stage severe arthritis of the shoulder.  

Rotator Cuff Tear

A tear in one of the four muscles that wrap around the upper portion of the arm bone (rotator cuff) can cause significant pain and shoulder instability. Long-standing rotator cuff tears can lead to shoulder arthritis and further damage to the shoulder. Over time chronic pain, shoulder instability, and shoulder mobility problems can set in, at which time your provider may recommend a shoulder replacement. 

Severe injury

A severe injury to the upper arm can significantly damage the shoulder. If the injury is severe enough to cause lasting pain and greatly affect the function of your shoulder, it may be time to consider shoulder replacement surgery. 

Dr. Pifer offers patients cutting-edge options for treating shoulder pain and restoring shoulder function. He will thoroughly evaluate your case and discuss all available options. 

Patients who choose shoulder replacement are highly satisfied, with 95% having pain-free function one year after surgery. Most patients are able to return to playing tennis, swimming, and having an active lifestyle.

If you’re struggling with chronic shoulder pain and treatments have failed to provide relief, we can help. To learn more about shoulder pain treatment, contact our Santa Barbara office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pifer. We offer in-person and telemedicine appointments, so you can receive guidance from the comfort of your home. Our team is here to meet your orthopedic needs.

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