A recent study has shown that age may not necessarily be a factor in determining shoulder replacement success. This result has surprised researchers, as up until now, age has always been associated with a decreased chance of success.
What’s more, older patients tend to experience far less complications and gain an increased level of shoulder function after the procedure compared to younger patients.
Understanding the study
The recent study was conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and it followed two different aged patient groups. The first included 262 patients under the age of 65, while the second followed 103 patients who were over 75. Each patient had undergone surgery due to osteoarthritis.
The older group were found to have less function in the shoulder than the younger group before they had surgery. However, once the replacement surgery had been performed, the older group experienced more improvement than the younger group.
While the study determined there was no real link between age and the outcome of shoulder replacement surgery, it was quite a small study. Therefore, more in-depth research would need to be done in order to determine just how factual these results are.
What causes a patient to require shoulder replacement?
Shoulder replacement surgery may not be performed as much as knee and hip replacement surgery, but it’s still surprisingly common. There are numerous things that can lead to a patient requiring this type of surgery including:
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – Arthritis in the shoulder joint is by far one of the most common causes of shoulder pain; particularly osteoarthritis. This occurs over time and largely affects patients aged 50 or over. The pain results from the cartilage being worn away and the bones then begin to rub against each other. Eventually the joint becomes painful and stiff.
Rotator cuff tear arthropathy – If you have a large rotator cuff tear that’s been there a while, it can lead to rotator cuff arthropathy. Because of the tear, changes can start to appear within the joint, which in turn can lead to damage to the cartilage and arthritis.
Serious fractures – If the bone in the upper arm becomes shattered, it could prove very difficult to have them placed back together. Therefore, a shoulder replacement may be recommended.
Understanding shoulder replacement surgery
Shoulder replacement surgery has proven really successful at eliminating shoulder joint pain. It’s one of the few surgical procedures that has been carried out since the 1950s. However, the techniques and equipment used have certainly improved over time.
While it is an effective treatment option, surgery is only ever considered as a last resort. The first thing patients are usually given to ease the pain is medication and recommended changes in activity. If these initial treatments don’t work, that’s when surgery could be more effective.
The procedure involves removing any damaged sections of the shoulder joint and replacing them with artificial components. The head of the joint alone could simply be removed, or the ball and socket may need to be replaced depending upon the severity of the problem.
Overall, shoulder replacement surgery is common and it does have a high success rate. In the past, patients have been put off due to their age, but this new study proves surgery could actually be more effective in older patients.