I Can’t Even Comb my Hair!

I can’t even comb my hair!

My shoulder has become so stiff and painful that I can’t comb my own hair! An MRI said the rotator cuff was not torn but I had arthritis in my joint. My general orthopedist said I need a shoulder replacement, but he does not do them. Do you do shoulder replacements? Do they work well?

Submitted by Theresa R.

Stuart C. Kozinn, MD Responds:

Yes and Yes! Shoulder arthritis is actually less common than hip and knee arthritis, so less shoulder replacements are done. Relatively few orthopedic surgeons are trained to do Total Shoulder Replacements, and you should seek a specialist. Both myself and my associate Dr. Evangelista are fellowship trained and we do shoulder replacement surgery on a regular basis.
 The results are very good, but somewhat less predictable than knee and hip replacements which routinely give 95% success rates. This is because the shoulder joint relies so much on muscles and soft tissues for stability, and even a perfectly placed shoulder implant can have soft tissue weakness or stiffness. Most total shoulder patients are better than before surgery, but some still have some limitations. Recovery is rapid and most patient use the arm for simple daily activities immediately. It takes about 3 months for full recovery, and physical therapy is usually needed post-op.