The upper extremities include the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. While these joints are among the least likely to develop conditions requiring joint replacement, there are implants that can reduce or eliminate pain and restore motion. The word replacement makes one think that surgeons remove the entire joint. In truth, surgeons resurface the damaged bone and cartilage at the ends of the bones in the joint.

Shoulder, elbow, and wrist replacement implants use metal alloys and polyethylene (plastic) to restore motion and reduce or eliminate pain. The implants are designed to create a new, smoothly functioning joint that can prevent painful bone-on-bone contact. Your surgeon may elect to replace all or part of a joint, depending on physical condition and the extent to which the joint is affected by arthritis.