Like anything else that someone procrastinates about or makes excuses not to do, real consequences can occur. An infected tooth can turn into a severe problem if not treated promptly, or neglecting your tax returns will come back to haunt you with untold monetary penalties. Why do we do it? It could be fear or it could be chronic procrastination. Both are sub-optimal. What happens if you wait too long for shoulder replacement?
Fear of Pain
There’s fear of pain, and no one wants a lengthy rehab. Most patients put off shoulder surgery due to these two main concerns. They think the surgery will be terribly painful and they surmise the rehab will interfere with their life. Even after talking with a shoulder specialist and discovering their worst fears are unfounded, they still can find excuses to wait too long for shoulder replacement.
Others fear the risks, and another group of younger patients fear they will outlive the replacement, and they will have to have surgery a second time. These are not insignificant concerns, but waiting too long has its downsides too.
Main Consequences of Waiting Too Long for Shoulder Replacement
Waiting too long for shoulder replacement surgery can have some serious consequences. Some of the main consequences include:
- Arthritis progresses with time and leads to more severe deformity. The socket or glenoid can wear down leading to bone loss and instability.
- Deterioration will decrease productivity if the replacement is not done in a timely fashion. When the body has less movement, the shoulder muscles and ligaments can contract causing stiffness. The possibility of motion after surgery will depend on the patient’s mobility before surgery.
- Prolonging shoulder replacement will cause further wear and tear and will affect its function. If the shoulder becomes deformed, you will need a specialized implant, and the rehab will be much longer than normal.
- When your shoulder hurts, most people rely on other parts of their body. This can result in back pain and pain in the other shoulder.
- When a patient avoids shoulder surgery, disability levels will get worse and lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Then doing a lot of sitting without exercise will lead to weight gain. Of course, mobility issues affect other aspects of general health.
- The longer you delay surgery, it can further damage the natural shoulder joint. If you decide to have surgery in the future, it will be more complicated and take longer to heal.
- Due to the increasing pain waiting to have surgery, patients won’t use their shoulder joint causing muscle atrophy. This makes post surgical rehab more challenging and lengthy.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is if non-surgical treatments have not helped, and if your shoulder issues affect your quality of life right now, it is probably best to proceed. Talk with a specialist like shoulder surgeon Samuel Koo, MD, MPH in Kirkland about shoulder replacement. Dr. Koo has extensive experience performing safe and effective shoulder replacement surgeries.
Contact Dr. Koo’s office at (425) 823-4000 with questions and concerns about your shoulder replacement. You can also request an appointment using our secure online form. Don’t wait too long. Dr. Koo sees patients from Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, and the surrounding areas.