Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder arthritis can cause a tremendous amount of pain that may interfere with your ability to participate in everyday activities. Whether your arthritis developed over time with normal wear and tear on the joint, or due to an injury, Dr. Wathne can offer solutions to help reduce your pain and improve shoulder function.

Dr. Wathne is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in shoulder surgery. He has 25 years of experience with shoulder surgery and is trained in the latest, state-of-the-art techniques in shoulder replacement surgery to help patients get the best possible results. He is also trained in reverse total shoulder replacement for patients with rotator cuff injuries, and was the first surgeon in the Pocatello community to offer this procedure.

When Is Shoulder Replacement Recommended?

Patients must be evaluated by a qualified orthopaedic surgeon like Dr. Wathne to determine whether or not they are candidates for shoulder replacement surgery. However, there are symptoms that may indicate that you would benefit from shoulder replacement surgery.

These are some of the common indicators that a patient may benefit from shoulder replacement surgery:

  • Shoulder pain that makes even simple, everyday activities difficult to complete
  • Shoulder pain that prevents you from sleeping at night
  • Shoulder weakness or loss of range of motion
  • Shoulder pain and dysfunction that does not improve with nonsurgical treatments like rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery. An orthopaedic evaluation with Dr. Wathne can confirm whether or not this procedure is right for you.

Shoulder Replacement Procedures

Dr. Wathne is trained in different shoulder replacement techniques to provide the best possible results to his patients.

Stemless Shoulder Replacement

With a typical total shoulder replacement, the ball-shaped end of the upper arm is removed and replaced with a metal implant. Traditionally, the implant is ball-shaped and has a long stem that is inserted into the arm. However, this requires the surgeon to remove a significant amount of bone to position the implant correctly. With a stemless total shoulder replacement, Dr. Wathne uses a much smaller cap-like implant for the upper end of the arm. Since the implant does not have a long stem, Dr. Wathne is able to preserve much more of the patient’s bone. The shoulder socket is then resurfaced with a plastic or plastic-lined metal component, and the ball-shaped implant fits into it. Together, the two shoulder implants work to recreate the function of a natural shoulder joint.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

When a patient has a rotator cuff tear or injury, a typical total shoulder replacement may not provide the best results. With a total shoulder replacement, the shoulder relies on the rotator cuff for stability and range of motion. If the rotator cuff is already weakened, the patient may still have significant pain and loss of function after a traditional shoulder replacement procedure.

For these patients, Dr. Wathne offers a procedure called reverse total shoulder replacement. Traditional total shoulder replacement involves placing the implants in a way that mimics the natural anatomy, with the ball-shaped component on the upper end of the arm and the socket at the end of the shoulder blade. Reverse total shoulder replacement swaps the placement of the implants, so that a ball-shaped implant is attached to the shoulder blade, and a socket implant is attached to the upper end of the arm. By reversing implant placement, the shoulder can rely on the deltoid muscle, rather than the damaged rotator cuff, for movement.

Because Dr. Wathne sees so many active patients, he typically performs reverse shoulder replacements as often or even more frequently than typical total shoulder replacements. He was also the first surgeon in the Pocatello area to offer this procedure.

Recovering from Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In most cases, Dr. Wathne will have patients stay in the hospital overnight. Patients receive a nerve block prior to surgery, which helps relieve pain immediately after the procedure and often lasts until the next morning. Before patients go home, they may be given medications to help keep them comfortable while they recover.

While in the hospital, occupational therapists meet with patients to go over at-home exercises for the shoulder. After about 2 weeks, patients begin formal physical therapy, either as an outpatient or in-home if they qualify for home health services. Physical therapy helps improve strength and range of motion in the shoulder. Patients typically do physical therapy for about 12 weeks.

Dr. Wathne will work with your physical therapy team to determine when it is appropriate for you to resume your normal activities. For example, most patients are able to begin driving again within 3 weeks of surgery. More strenuous activities will need to be gradually reintroduced into the patient’s routine.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery in Pocatello, ID

Dr. Richard Wathne is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in shoulder surgery, including total shoulder replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement. Dr. Wathne has been in practice for 25 years, and he keeps current on the latest techniques in shoulder surgery to meet the needs of his patients. If you would like to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Wathne, please call his office at (208) 233-2100 or request an appointment via our convenient online form.