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Surgery for Osteoarthritis Joint Pain

Resection Arthroplasty for Joint Pain

Resection arthroplasty is the removal of all or part of a joint to eliminate damaged surfaces from moving against each other. It's rarely done on a weight-bearing joint such as the knee or hip, because you need the joint to walk. But it may be done on a "hanging joint" such as the shoulder. For a good example of this procedure, let's look at resection arthroplasty of the shoulder:

Benefits and Risks of Resection Arthroplasty

Benefits of resection arthroplasty include:

  • Relieving shoulder pain and tenderness
  • Allowing freer shoulder movement

Risks of resection arthroplasty include:

  • Possible damage to nerves and blood vessels in the surgical area
  • Risk of infection

What Happens During Resection Arthroplasty

If you were having shoulder arthroplasty, your surgery could take place two possible ways:

  • For open surgery, the surgeon typically makes a bone-cut through a 2-inch incision.
  • An arthroscope may be used; this allows bone access through a smaller incision.

The orthopedic surgeon removes the last half-inch of the collar bone (clavicle). This creates a space between the cut end and of the collar bone and the shoulder blade (scapula). The space is not filled. Over time, scar tissue grows into this space, letting the shoulder joint move but stopping bones from painfully rubbing together.

Recovery From Resection Arthroplasty

It's normal to have some pain, tenderness, and stiffness after resection arthroplasty. You may need to wear a shoulder-support sling for a few days and receive treatment with ice and electrical stimulation. You'll probably have physical therapy -- first to control pain and swelling in the area, later to ensure that the joint moves smoothly.

Before you go home, ask about signs and symptoms of complications. At home, call your surgeon if you have any concerns.

Recovery and Outcome: Points to Remember

Keep in mind that recovery from any surgery will take time, and the outcome depends a good deal on following your surgeon's instructions for exercise and further treatment. The effort you give at this important time can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the years to come.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 18, 2013

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