Your shoulder comprises numerous bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and ligaments, all working together to allow good range of motion and strength.
The main shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint surrounded by cartilage that reduces friction in the bones. This cartilage can wear away over time and become damaged due to arthritis, overuse, fractures, tumours, avascular necrosis, or injury. This can lead to pain, stiffness, discomfort, instability, and reduced flexibility and strength in the joint.
A shoulder hemiarthroplasty, also known as a partial shoulder replacement, is a procedure where the damaged ball or humeral head– the upper arm located between the shoulder joint and the elbow joint, is replaced with a prosthesis while the socket is left untouched. It differs from a total shoulder replacement where both the ball and socket are replaced.
Depending on the severity of the damage, a shoulder hemiarthroplasty may be recommended when only the head of the humerus bone has become damaged.
How does hemiarthroplasty work?
During a shoulder hemarthroplasty procedure, a surgeon replaces the humerus bone with an artificial prosthesis. The artificial prosthesis consists of a metal ball and stem, similar to the component normally used in total shoulder replacement surgery.
The artificial prosthesis can last approximately 15-20 years and you can expect to have healthy use of your shoulder during that time. You can expect to feel less pain and more flexibility in the joint after a full recovery.
Benefits of hemiarthroplasty
Eliminates or reduces shoulder pain, stiffness, and discomfort
Treats shoulder fractures and injuries
Treats damaged shoulder due to arthritis
Improves quality of life
Regained flexibility, stability, and strength
What conditions can hemiarthroplasty treat?
Hemiarthroplasty can treat the following conditions:
Medical conditions: such as arthritis, tumours, avascular necrosis.
The procedure is normally conducted under general anaesthesia and may require an overnight stay (or more nights, depending on the patient’s medical history and complexity of the injury).
After the procedure, you will be prescribed pain medications to help aid with pain, bruising, and swelling. You should also attend physiotherapy sessions to help regain strength and flexibility in your shoulder. You will be advised to take it easy for the first few weeks to allow your shoulder to heal and prevent dislocation.
The recovery period and duration of physiotherapy will depend on your age, fitness level, and severity of injury but in general, you should expect a full recovery in 6-7 months.
Upon full recovery, you should expect to feel significantly less pain and discomfort in your shoulder, while being able to participate in low-impact exercise easily. Follow-up appointments may be required to monitor the progress of the hemiarthroplasty procedure.
Work closely with your orthopaedist and follow their recommendations for exercises and activities for the best results.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
Only 1 hemiarthroplasty treatment session at a time is normally needed, but you will be required to attend physiotherapy sessions and follow-up appointments with your orthopaedic surgeon.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.