Doctors recommend joint replacement surgery when shoulder pain and loss of function become severe and when medicines and other treatments no longer relieve pain. Your doctor will use X-rays to look at the bones and cartilage in your shoulder to see whether they are damaged and to make sure that the pain isn't coming from somewhere else.
Shoulder replacement may not be recommended for people who:
- Have poor general health and may not tolerate anesthesia and surgery well.
- Have an active infection or are at risk for infection.
- Have osteoporosis (significant thinning of the bones).
- Have severe weakness of or damage to the muscles around the shoulder.
Some doctors will recommend other types of surgery if possible for younger people and especially for those who do strenuous work. A younger or more active person is more likely than an older or less active person to have an artificial shoulder joint wear out.
Doctors usually do not recommend shoulder replacement surgery for people who have very high expectations for how much they will be able to do with the artificial joint (for example, people who expect to be able to play competitive tennis, paint ceilings or do other activities that stress the shoulder joint). The artificial shoulder allows a person to do ordinary daily activities with less pain. It does not restore the same level of function that the person had before the damage to the shoulder joint began.
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