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Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Overview: Shoulder replacement surgery
Overview: Shoulder replacement surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery is necessary when the damaged shoulder bone makes your everyday task difficult. Shoulder damage can leave you in severe pain and make you weak and your bones stiff. 

In shoulder replacement surgery, the expert removes the damaged bone and replace it with metal and implants (plastic) to provide the shoulder the support it needs to function without any discomfort.

Shoulder implants are available in several shapes and sizes that would be according to the patient’s need and requirement. 

Anatomy of shoulder

Anatomy of shoulder

Three bones make up the shoulder the clavicle, the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (collarbone). Shoulder is a complex network of bones, joints, and soft tissues which allows for a great range of motion. The shoulder has a ball-and-socket joint where the spherical head (ball) of the upper arm fits into a shallow socket in the shoulder.

Why it is done?

Why it is done?

Shoulder replacement surgery is performed to address pain and relieve other symptoms caused by shoulder joint degeneration.

The following are some of the conditions that might have lead to the shoulder damage:


Osteoarthritis is the wear-and-tear of bones; it is a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down and worsens over time. Pain in the shoulders, neck, knees and hips are some of the common symptoms of osteoarthritis. Certain medication, physiotherapy or replacement surgery can help reduce the pain and support in the movement of joints.


Fractures of the upper end of the should may necessitate replacement as a result of the injury or when previous fracture fixation treatment has failed. Fractures occurs when there is a sudden partial or complete break in the bone. Bones break due to trauma, overuse of the bones, or diseases that weaken the bones making it difficult for the person to function.

Rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that surround and protect the shoulder joint. When the rotation, elevation or even a slight movement of the arm becomes difficult it indicates you either hae partial rotator cuff tear or complete rotator cuff injury.

Rheumatoid arthritis  

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the hands and feet, as well as other joints. Due to an overactive immune system, the body begins to attack its own tissues in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the linings of joints, causing severe swelling.

Risk factors/Complications

Risk factors/Complications

It is a possibility that shoulder replacement surgery might not make your pain go away completely, but it might help reduce the pain or ease your ability to do some movement. Below are some common possible risk factors of shoulder replacement:

Never Damage

Nevers in the part of the shoulder where the metal or implants are being placed gets injured causing weakness, pain and numbness in the shoulder


Once the metal is placed there are chances it might not be suitable to the body and cause infection in the deeper tissues for which again a surgery might be needed


It’s possible that the ball after joint replacement fall out of its socket.

 Implant loosening

Although shoulder replacement components are long-lasting, they may loosen or wear over time. You may require additional surgery or time to time visits to the doctor to repair the loosening implants.

 Blood clots

After surgery, clots can form in the arm veins. There can be instances in which a fragment of a clot breaks off and move to the lung, heart, or, in rare cases, the brain, which can result in very serious and can have hazardous effects.

Shoulder replacement procedures

Shoulder replacement procedures

What and which type of shoulder replacement procedure to follow will depend on the severity and as per doctor’s recommendation

Anatomic (Standard) total shoulder replacement

This occurs when both the ball and sockets have to be replaced, and the implants have been designed to mimic the form of the bones in their normal state.

Partial shoulder replacement

This means when only the ball of the joint needs to be replaced. This type of surgery is recommended when only one side of the joint is damaged.

Reverse total shoulder replacement

In this type of replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the rounded head of the upper arm and the socket of the shoulder blade and then using special tools fixes the implants or plastics to the remaining bone. 

Preparing for surgery

Preparing for surgery

Before the surgery is performed there are certain tests that the surgeon will need for proper diagnosis and for treatment plan.

List of procedure plan involves:

Once the surgeon and the team of supporting staff assess your examination, the doctor will perform the surgery. After the surgery he/she will recommend some home exercises to help improve the mobility. 

What to expect when you visit for the procedure

What to expect when you visit for the procedure


The day before and the day of surgery, follow your surgeon’s instructions on what all needs to be done before visiting the hospital.


During the surgery your doctor sedate you to avoid any discomfort and this will help you to go into deep sleep. Once you are asleep, your nerve block numbs your shoulder so as to control the pain.The surgery usually takes a maximum of 2-3 hours. 


Once the surgery is completed, your surgery will recommend you to rest and avoid moving your shoulder too fast too soon and may even cover the shoulder with a supporter to help relieve the pain. 


The average age to go for a follow up would be 5-6 hours or as suggested by the doctor. 

Post-surgery it may take a maximum of five to six months for the shoulder to full recover and relieve any pain and discomfort.

To declare a surgery a major one would depend on the severity of the symptoms and the cause of the injury.

As per doctor’s suggestion, you might be able to resume work or go home after 6-7 days of surgery.

Though most patients opt for total shoulder replacement surgery ans revere shoulder replacement is best for people with injuries like shoulder dislocation or rotation cuff injuries.

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