The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and a cavity (socket) at the side of the shoulder blade. The bones in the joint are lined by smooth cartilage enabling the shoulder to move freely in different directions. Cartilage at the shoulder joint may undergo damage due to wear and tear with age or overuse, a condition called osteoarthritis. Joint surfaces affected by arthritis tend to be rough and become inflamed leading to pain and stiffness.
The Copeland resurfacing procedure involves placing a cap-shape metal implant over the humeral head to cover the areas of lost cartilage and ensure a smooth surface. It is indicated when arthritis is confined to the surface of the humeral head and the cartilage in the socket is intact.
The surgery is performed under anesthesia. You surgeon makes an incision over the shoulder to access the humeral head. To place the implant, your doctor will first identify the center of the humeral head and then drill a hole through it. A peg under the implant is then inserted through this hole until the implant is in place. The procedure usually requires an overnight stay at the hospital. Your arm is placed in a sling which is worn for the next 6 weeks. During this time, it is removed to perform exercises which are recommended to prevent shoulder stiffness. You will not be able to drive or perform any lifting for 6 weeks following the surgery with recovery taking about 6 to 12 months.
Copeland resurfacing is preferred over a total shoulder replacement as it involves less removal of bone and cartilage, preserving the normal anatomy and function of the shoulder. A total shoulder replacement may easily be performed if needed in the future.