How risky is a shoulder replacement?

Shoulder replacement surgery, also known as total shoulder arthroplasty, is a major surgery that carries some risk, as with any surgical procedure. However, it is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment for shoulder arthritis and other conditions that cause shoulder pain and limited mobility.

Some of the risks associated with shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Infection: As with any surgery, there is a small risk of infection. The risk can be reduced by carefully following pre- and post-operative instructions, including taking antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Blood clots: Shoulder replacement surgery can increase the risk of blood clots in the legs or lungs. Your surgeon will give you appropriate preventive measures such as compression stockings and blood thinners to reduce this risk.
  • Dislocation: The prosthetic shoulder joint may dislocate after surgery. This is more common in the first few weeks after surgery and can be reduced by following physical therapy and avoiding certain movements and activities that could put too much stress on the shoulder joint.
  • Nerve or blood vessel injury: There is a small risk of injury to nerves or blood vessels near the shoulder during surgery.
  • Loosening or wear of the prosthesis: The prosthetic shoulder joint may loosen or wear over time, which may require revision surgery.
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia: As with any surgery, there is a risk of adverse reactions to anesthesia.

It's important to note that these risks are generally rare and most patients experience a significant improvement in their shoulder function and pain relief after the surgery. It's also important to consider the risks and benefits of the surgery with your surgeon and to follow post-operative instructions and rehabilitation program to ensure a good outcome.

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