If you’ve experienced a major shoulder injury while working for your Georgia employer, then you may need a surgery such as a total shoulder replacement to recover fully. To know if a total shoulder replacement is right for you, it’s important to know what this surgery entails, the potential benefits and risks of the procedure, and how your life might look after a total shoulder replacement.
Your specific shoulder injury and the right treatment for you will be unique to your situation. However, getting treatments for your workplace shoulder injury covered by your Georgia employer requires building a strong case to make sure you can get the benefits that you deserve. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to establish a connection between your shoulder injury and work history with your employer, which can be difficult.
We understand that your Georgia employer and the workers’ compensation system can make it difficult to get your important shoulder treatments covered. With one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Gearhart Law, you can build the strongest case possible for your shoulder injury and get the compensation that you need for your recovery.
What is Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
A total shoulder replacement is a major surgical procedure that involves removing damaged or worn out components of the shoulder joint and replacing them with artificial components, which are called prostheses. This procedure is most often used to treat severe arthritis and other conditions that lead to severe pain and dysfunction of the shoulder. In many cases, these conditions also prevent your ability to work.
During a total shoulder replacement, an orthopedic surgeon will make a large incision in the shoulder and remove the damaged humeral head and socket components, replacing them with various components to produce a prosthetic ball-and-socket joint. The new artificial components are typically made of metal or ceramic depending on your specific needs. After removing damaged shoulder components and cleaning up the inside of your shoulder joint, your surgeon will insert the new parts into place, secure them with hardware, and close the incision.
The results of your recovery after surgery can vary depending on your unique situation and the exact approach used by your surgeon, but many people who opt for a total shoulder replacement experience reduced pain and improved function after their initial recovery period. In addition, many patients are able to return to some or all of their work activities with less pain after a successful total shoulder replacement procedure and recovery.
What is Total Shoulder Replacement Used For?
Total shoulder replacement surgery is typically used to treat injuries that are causing severe pain and dysfunction of the shoulder joint or otherwise seriously limit your quality of life. The most common conditions that can warrant having a total shoulder replacement are advanced osteoarthritis and some types of bone fractures.
Total shoulder replacement is most often recommended only when less-invasive treatments such as exercise or medications have been unsuccessful at reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life. While conditions such as osteoarthritis usually occur slowly, it can often be due to repetitive work duties and may be worsened by accidents at work. Additionally, other soft tissue injuries can contribute to the need for a total shoulder replacement, which can develop due to your work activities and exist alongside progressive osteoarthritis.
A popular alternative to a total shoulder replacement is arthroscopic shoulder surgery, which is a minimally invasive surgical approach that uses small incisions and special tools to repair your shoulder joint from the inside. Your surgeon can use arthroscopic shoulder surgery to diagnose and treat several conditions like torn cartilage and less severe injuries in the shoulder joint. This procedure offers many benefits compared to a total shoulder replacement including shorter recovery times, less pain and fewer associated risks.
Is Total Shoulder Replacement Safe?
Total shoulder replacement is a routine procedure that generally offers good outcomes, although it is a very invasive procedure relative to many other shoulder surgery options. Like all surgeries, there are potential risks and complications that you should be aware of before determining if this procedure is right for you. Major surgical risks include infection, nerve damage, blood clots, and potential prosthesis issues after surgery. It’s important to talk about your health history and discuss all potential risks with your doctor before deciding if a total shoulder replacement is appropriate.
During the first few weeks after total shoulder replacement surgery, you will likely experience discomfort due to swelling and soreness in your shoulder and arm. As you gradually return to normal movements of your shoulder, you may also experience pain or nerve symptoms due to irritation of your shoulder joint. In addition to pain, soreness and stiffness in your shoulder are very normal and may last for months depending on your condition before surgery.
Following surgery, your doctor may prescribe you pain medication to help reduce discomfort and manage any pain that you experience during your initial recovery. During this period it’s also very important to keep your incision area clean and dry, follow all provided instructions for wound care, and stick to any precautions that are given to you by your surgeon.
In many cases, your total shoulder replacement can last over ten years depending on the type of components used and your lifestyle after surgery. After several years of wear on your prosthetic joint, you may need to have another shoulder replacement if the hardware becomes excessively worn down or fails. In light of these additional factors, total shoulder replacement is generally still useful to help recover from severe disability when performed by an experienced orthopedic.
Will I Need Other Treatments?
Your recovery from total shoulder replacement may be a long process. To help you make a full recovery, your doctor will likely recommend additional treatments after surgery. For many people, physical and occupational therapy are both important parts of a successful recovery after total shoulder replacement surgery.
Physical therapy is designed to help you restore strength and function in your shoulder joint and the muscles surrounding it. Your therapist may recommend special exercises, scar care techniques, and lifestyle modifications to help you safely return to your normal functions. Occupational therapy helps you learn new ways to perform everyday tasks without putting too much strain on your new shoulder, such as self-care and activities you need to return to for work.
You may also benefit from using hot or cold packs, topical patches, or over-the-counter medications to stay comfortable and improve your participation in therapy after your replacement. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or drinking may be recommended to help optimize your body’s healing process after surgery. All of these factors can help to reduce stress on your new shoulder joint and improve mobility so that you can get back to your normal life as soon as possible.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
Our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group represent victims of work-related injuries and help them get the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve. Our lawyers understand how your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance companies will try to save money by denying or underpaying your claim. We know how to fight any objections they may have and pursue all the Georgia workers’ compensation benefits that you need. Call us now so we can evaluate your specific case and advise you of your next legal steps as well as ensuring that you are receiving the best medical care for your injuries.