What is Shoulder Resurfacing?
The shoulder being an active joint is prone to injuries and may also get affected by conditions such as arthritis, which results in impaired functioning and related discomfort. The traditional method of treatment for such conditions is shoulder joint replacement. However, advances in technology have resulted in a superior alternative technique known as shoulder resurfacing.
Shoulder resurfacing is a surgical procedure, in which only the diseased part of your joint is replaced rather than the complete joint as in shoulder replacement.
Indications for Shoulder Resurfacing
Shoulder resurfacing is indicated for different conditions including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Avascular necrosis
- Rotator cuff or instability arthropathy
- Post-traumatic arthritis
Preparing for Shoulder Resurfacing
If you are aged 80 and above or have medical problems, you are at a risk of developing medical complications such as heart attack, blood clot formation in the legs and other complications during or after the surgery. These risks can be greatly reduced with certain anticoagulants and other drugs, before and after surgery.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your shoulder bones are very fragile, and you may face complications such as fractures at the tip of the humerus bone during surgery. Therefore, special implants have been designed to overcome this condition. Your surgeon may prescribe medication rich in calcium and bisphosphonates to improve the bone density.
Shoulder Resurfacing Procedure
Resurfacing may be performed on the humeral head or the glenoid cavity.
The procedure is performed under general or local anesthesia and usually takes about 2 hours to complete. An incision is made in the front of your shoulder.
For resurfacing of the humeral head, instruments are used to remove diseased or injured portions of the humeral head. The humeral head is then prepared to receive the implant. The implant is a hemispheric metallic surface implant. This procedure allows much of the natural humeral head to remain intact.
If the socket of the shoulder joint needs resurfacing, a reamer is used to reshape the damaged glenoid surface of the shoulder blade. The natural humeral head is replaced with a prosthesis which fits into the reshaped socket, providing greater shoulder joint stability with improved pain control and range of motion for the shoulder joint. Shoulder movement is encouraged shortly after the procedure and extensive rehabilitation is not necessary.
Following the surgery, physiotherapy will be recommended for improving the strength and mobility of the shoulder muscles. You should avoid lifting heavy weights at an early stage because this implants more strain the healing tendons.
You may be allowed to leave the hospital after three days of surgery. In general, you can restore your normal activities in about 6 weeks after the surgery.
Advantages of Shoulder Resurfacing over Shoulder Replacement
It is noticed that shoulder resurfacing is comparatively:
- Less traumatic
- Less invasive
- Is a natural tissue-retaining procedure
- More effective than the conventional shoulder replacement
Other major advantages are:
- Better range of movement
- No risk of fat embolus or fracture near the tip of the bone
- Restoration of normal anatomy
- Can be performed even in deformed bones