The indications for the replacement of a shoulder joint are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis; severe pain and disability not responding to medication. An MRI scan or X-ray can help to determine whether surgery is necessary. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia by an orthopaedic surgeon. The shoulder is approached either from the front or side. The damaged humeral head and glenoid fossa are removed and replaced with an artificial joint. The artificial prosthesis is usually made of cobalt and chromium alloy. Possible complications are damage to nearby nerves, rotator cuff tears, wound infection, infection of the implant and dysfunction of the joint after shoulder replacement. Physiotherapy is recommended to help restore mobility in the joint after surgery.
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