Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Like the hips and knees, our shoulder joints can undergo degenerative changes over time, either due to overuse, injuries, or just normal wear and tear with age. Conditions like arthritis can cause the cartilage that lines the shoulder joint to wear away. Eventually, this damage may cause pain with everyday activities like dressing, washing, or reaching to grab items on a shelf. Though there are nonsurgical treatments to help with shoulder pain, if these treatments do not provide sufficient relief, shoulder replacement surgery may be an option.

Dr. Ralph Rynning and Dr. Steve Allsing are our shoulder specialists at Orthopedics Specialists of San Diego. Dr. Rynning is a leading shoulder specialist at Sharp Hospitals and has over 10 years of experience with both total shoulder replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement. He completed his fellowship in shoulder and elbow surgery at the world-renowned Rothman Institute, one of the respected authorities in orthopedic surgery. He also works with several shoulder implant manufacturers for consulting and instruction of other surgeons. Dr. Allsing has over 20 years of experience in orthopedics. Dr. Rynning and Dr. Allsing pride themselves on being able to offer patients the latest surgical options for shoulder replacement to help improve their quality of life.

Shoulder Replacement Candidates

Patients must undergo an evaluation with a qualified specialist like Dr. Rynning before shoulder replacement surgery can be recommended. However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may qualify for shoulder replacement surgery.

  • Severe shoulder pain that is present during daily activities like getting dressed or washing
  • Shoulder pain that persists while at rest, and may prevent you from sleeping at night
  • Shoulder weakness or loss of function
  • Arthritis symptoms that do not improve with nonsurgical treatments like medications, injections, and physical therapy

Patients may develop these symptoms for a variety of reasons. Some patients have arthritis caused by wear and tear on the shoulder over time. Others may have problems related to a sports injury or work accident. Patients who have large rotator cuff tears or severe shoulder fractures may also benefit from shoulder replacement surgery.

If our surgeons feels the patient is a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery after a thorough evaluation, he will review surgical options.

Shoulder Replacement Procedures

During a shoulder replacement procedure, Dr. Rynning or Dr. Allsing will remove the damaged portions of the shoulder and replaces them with implants designed to improve shoulder function. There are different surgical procedures available for shoulder replacement, depending on the patient’s needs.

Total Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement is a great option for patients with moderate to severe shoulder arthritis. During a total shoulder replacement, the surgeon removes the ball-shaped portion of the upper arm and replaces it with an implant that has a metal ball on the end. The shoulder socket is then lined with a plastic socket, and the ball-shaped implant fits into it. Together, these implants can help to improve range of motion in the shoulder. The procedure typically lasts about 2 - 2.5 hours.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

A reverse total shoulder replacement is a great option for patients that have a large rotator cuff tear, a rotator cuff tear that cannot be repaired, or a previous rotator cuff injury that has caused the development of arthritis. With a reverse total shoulder replacement, the surgeon places a cup-like socket implant on the upper end of the arm after removing the damaged bone. He then places a ball-shaped implant in the patient’s natural shoulder socket. By reversing the implant placement and therefore the mechanics of the shoulder, the shoulder can rely on the deltoid muscle for movement, rather than the damaged rotator cuff. This procedure also takes about 2 - 2.5 hours to complete.

Recovering from Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Most patients will stay at the hospital overnight for an average of 1 - 3 days after shoulder replacement surgery. Patients typically meet with a physical therapist while in the hospital to go over at-home exercises. When not exercising the arm, patients are typically advised to wear a sling for the first few weeks. Patients are also advised to sleep in a recliner or propped up with pillows for the first 2 weeks after surgery to help stabilize the arm. This sleeping position also tends to be the most comfortable while recovering.

Recovery times can vary from patient to patient, depending on their individual health and the reason for needing surgery. Our surgeons will advise some patients to work with a physical therapist upon returning home, while other patients may progress their recovery with at-home exercises on their own. Most patients are able to regain full use of their shoulders within 6 weeks of surgery, though some recover more quickly. We will advise when it is safe to resume more strenuous activities like sports and heavy lifting.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery in San Diego, CA

Dr. Ralph Rynning is a top-rated shoulder specialist with over 10 years of experience. He trained at the prestigious Rothman Institute, and works with medical device companies to bring the latest shoulder replacement procedures to patients in the San Diego area. Dr. Steve Allsing has over 20 years of experience in orthopedics. If you think that total shoulder replacement or reverse total shoulder replacement may be right for you, please call our office at 619-286-9480 or request an appointment online.