There are three main types of shoulder replacement surgery: total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA), reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA), and hemiarthroplasty (HA). The different kinds of should replacement resolve in different ways.
- The single most common mistake shoulder replacement recipients make is to extend their range of motion too far or too soon. If you doctor tells you to use a sling or a neutral rotation pillow, you need to keep on using even if your surgical pain has begun to subside. If you don't know how far you can stretch your arm forward or rotate your shoulder because you don't have a good feel for how far a certain number of degrees may be, ask! Typically, shoulder replacement patients don't stretch their arms more than 150 degrees (less than straight up to straight down) or rotate their shoulders more than 30 to 40 degrees (more of a shrug than rotation) and then only four to six weeks after surgery.
- People are more likely to return to their old activities more completely and faster after a total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) than the other two procedures.
- People who get reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA) may be told by their friends that their implants will wear out in just a few years. The hardware used in this procedure is typically only given to people who are over 65, but that isn't because it will wear out very quickly. It's given to older people because there isn't enough experience with it yet to know exactly how long it lasts, so it is only assumed to be appropriate for elderly recipients. The procedure is associated with more surgical complications, but that is probably because it is given to older people.
- People who have shoulder replacement surgery are more likely to be able to return to certain sports than others. People who fish (92 percent), for instance, are more likely to go back to fishing than people who bowl (20 percent) are to go back to bowling. Biking, canoeing, and golf are sports to which total shoulder replacement recipients are particularly unlikely to return.
- Hemiathroplasty (HA) is considered safer than other surgeries for people who are physically active, because the hardware is less likely to fail.
- The most common length of time before returning to normal activities after shoulder replacement is five to seven months. However, the range is one month to one year, depending on the surgery and the surgeon.
- It's surprisingly common for the joint to be infected by Propionibacterium acnes, acne bacteria, after shoulder replacement surgery. If possible, do everything you can to get any action infections in good control before surgery.
What can you do if you have pain that just won't go away? First of all, the solution is not to try to get more and more opioid pain reliever. That can be a disaster. Try TENS, transcutaneous electroneural stimulation. It's a electrical generator that sends a signal across your skin to "distract" your nervous system from your shoulder pain. There are even units you can get without a prescription at most pharmacies now.
Try aromatherapy with lavender oil. It's not going to relieve your pain completely. It can just take the edge off pain you are controlling with other methods. You only need to smell the oil. You never drink it.
Eat foods made with ginger or lemon zest. Drink citrus juices if you drink juice. These foods do not "knock out" pain, but they also slightly reduce it.
None of these complementary methods completely relieves pain. They only reduce it, but they don't cause any problems of their own.
What if you just can't work any more? Social Security Disability Income is very hard to get in most English-speaking countries, but you may qualify for training programs designed to place you in an entirely different kind of job. If you are willing to work, you are protected by laws that keep you from being fired because of your disabilities. It's very, very hard to make the transition, and you'll have to work harder than most, but it is usually possible to find a way to earn a living despite your disability.
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