Dr. Nikhil Pandhi
At North Point ORthopaedics

5 Signs You May Need a Shoulder Replacement

Apr 02, 2023
5 Signs You May Need a Shoulder Replacement
Surgery is a big deal, and it’s a decision you should make with an experienced surgeon. But before you see us for a consultation, consider these five signs you might need surgery.

Your shoulder hurts — but does it hurt enough to warrant surgery? For many, the answer is yes. Every year, over 50,000 people opt for surgery to fix their shoulders. 

Although shoulder replacement surgery is a serious decision that requires careful monitoring from and discussion with our expert orthopaedic surgeon, there are a few ways your body tells you it needs extensive intervention. Dr. Nikhil Pandhi and our team know the toll surgery can take, so we only recommend it when it's absolutely necessary.  

Here's your guide to knowing when to consider shoulder replacement surgery.

1. Persistent pain

Many cases of shoulder pain are short-lived. Chronic pain caused by several conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or rotator cuff tears, is more challenging to treat.

We usually recommend replacing the joint for severe shoulder pain stemming from significant damage.

2. Limited range of motion

Your shoulder is a large, flexible joint that moves in almost every direction, but conditions like arthritis, injury, or degenerative joint disease can cause painful swelling and damage that make movement next to impossible. 

Being unable to move your shoulder freely or experiencing significant limitations in movement may be signs you need to replace the joint. 

3. Night pain

Does the shoulder pain follow you to bed and keep you up at night? This type of severe, chronic pain may indicate that a shoulder replacement is necessary. 

4. Significant muscle weakness

Severe nerve damage and rotator cuff tears can lead to muscle weakness throughout your shoulder joint. If your muscle weakness doesn't improve with rehabilitation, we may recommend replacing the joint.  

5. Lack of response to nonsurgical treatment

We begin treating almost every case of shoulder pain conservatively. However, a shoulder replacement may be necessary if you've tried nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy, medication, or injections and aren't seeing improvement in your shoulder pain or function. In some cases, surgery may be the best (or only) option to restore your shoulder function and alleviate pain.

What to expect

Significant medical advancements make shoulder replacement surgery less aggressive than you're likely picturing. Dr. Pandhi uses two shoulder replacement techniques depending on your specific needs and situation: arthroscopic surgery and robotic joint replacement

With both techniques, we only need to make small incisions, and we can fix your shoulder with as little damage to the surrounding tissues as possible. This also means you'll recover faster and enjoy a pain-free life soon. 

If you're experiencing any of these indicators of shoulder surgery, don't wait to talk with Dr. Pandhi. Call or click to schedule an appointment at our Munster, Indiana, office today.