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Reasons for a shoulder replacement

The shoulder joint consists of several structures that can ‘wear and tear’ due to several reasons.  So there are several possible reasons why someone might need a prosthesis. Below is an overview..

Osteoarthritis (osteoarthritis): wear and tear of the cartilage of the shoulder.

The cartilage layer on the head and socket ensure that both parts of the shoulder joint glide easily over each other during movement. This layer can be damaged by age, overuse, and luxation, among other things. However, our body cannot repair this damaged layer itself. When a large part of the cartilage is damaged, the bone surfaces start to rub against each other. This often leads to a painful inflammatory reaction, accompanied by the formation of inflammatory fluid in the shoulder and the creation of extra bone. This bone protrusion is also called bone spur, parrot mouth, or osteophyte.

Arthritis (osteoarthritis): inflammation of the joint.

A joint can become inflamed due to an acute infection (elsewhere in the body) or as a result of chronic inflammatory disease. When a joint or joint capsule becomes inflamed, it can lead to permanent functional limitations and deformities. A well-known condition is rheumatoid arthritis.

RX rheumatoid arthritis

Bone infarction (osteonecrosis): the dying off of bone tissue.

When blood flow to the bone is temporarily or permanently interrupted, the bone tissue starts dying off. This can be caused by a fracture, luxation (shoulder dislocation), or long-term medication use, e.g. cortisone.

Rotator cuff tear.

When several tendons suddenly tear in the shoulder, the arm can no longer be lifted. We call this a “pseudoparalysis”. The term indicates an apparent paralysis, which is not caused by a nerve injury but by a major strength deficiency in the muscles. When several tendons in the shoulder are torn, they no longer hold the head in the correct position relative to the socket to move smoothly and painlessly. The head often slides upwards, which can even cause it to collide with the shoulder roof (acromion). Because the parts of the shoulder are not in the right position from each other, this leads to increased wear and tear. We call this wear and tear “rotator cuff arthropathy or cuff tear arthropathy”.


Fracture of the shoulder.

A broken shoulder often occurs as a result of a fall where the hand is placed to catch the fall. As you age by the day, the chances of breaking something increase as bones become weaker.

When pain and functional limitations due to a damaged shoulder become so inconvenient, a shoulder prosthesis may offer a solution.

Important criteria for this are: Are medicines still helping to control the pain? Have you already had physical therapy to keep the shoulder mobile? Do you have a lot of pain during movement? Can you still lie on the painful shoulder at night? Can you still perform daily activities (ADL and household chores)? How long have you been suffering from pain and/or stiffness? How did it start? When do you have the most pain? How is your general health? Do you have any particular illnesses? What medication are you taking or have you taken?

The surgeon will make the decision with you.

Updated on November 22, 2022

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