Having a Ball and Socket after Getting a New Shoulder JointMany questions come up if you are thinking about having a shoulder joint replacement. For example, you may want to ask your doctor, "How much better will I be after the operation?" or "Is there any chance my shoulder will be worse than it is now?"
Doctors at the University of Washington in Seattle have some answers to these questions. Their information is based on 128 of their own patients. Overall, patients got back about two-thirds of the shoulder function that was gone before surgery.
After replacing the arthritic shoulder joint with an implant, patients could once again rest comfortably with their arm by their side. They slept comfortably, and could put their hand behind their head. There were other skills that returned after the operation. These included tucking a shirt in, washing the other shoulder, carrying weights, and lifting various objects.
People with severe arthritis may benefit from a new shoulder joint. Patients in this study regained at least two-thirds of lost function after surgery. Improvement is greater in people who have worse shoulder problems before the operation. Overall, the odds are good that a shoulder replacement is worth the time and effort it takes to recover from the surgery.
Edward V. Fehringer, MD, et al. Characterizing the Functional Improvement After Total Shoulder Arthroplasty for Osteoarthritis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2002. Vol. 84-A. No. 8. Pp. 1349-1353.
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